“Be not afraid of sudden fear…” (Prov.3:25)
There is a fear that is not occasioned by an obviously fearful phenomenon or event, but by the fact that it comes suddenly, without cause. It is not something that can be reasoned away, for it lacks all reason. It would be like arguing with a ghost or boxing with a shadow. Solomon called it “sudden fear.” We often refer to it as a panic attack; and the medical world, that must have its own terminology, calls it, General Anxiety Disorder. But if you are one of its 2.4 million suffers, you probably think a more accurate term would be “hell.”
It is interesting that it is seen twice as often in women than men. I attach no significance to this, except to say that it is probably something you and I should talk about. I have friends and family who have been plagued at one time or another by it, with differing symptoms. There are various theories as to its origins, but nothing definite, so that they are unable to do much more than treat the symptoms, usually with drugs that sometimes only add new ones. The word “panic” literally means “fear caused by the god Pan,” the Greek god of forests, flocks, and shepherds, having the horns and hoofs of a goat, and believed to be able to cause a feeling of sudden fear in humans whenever he wished.” (Reader’s Digest Family Word Reader.) From a writing of 1603, comes this succinct explanation: “Sudden foolish frights, without any certeine cause, which they call Panique Terrores.” We can be sure, then, that this is not a new malady, and perhaps even more comforting to those who suffer with it, not an imaginary one. This should be remembered by those of us who have not experienced it.
Solomon encourages those plagued by these phantom horrors to acknowledge that, in this case, it is not what we fear that hurts us, but rather, the fear itself. He gives no formula or ritual to dispel the demons, but offers a reason why it is an unnecessary fear: “For the Lord shall be thy confidence…” (v.26). To put confidence anywhere else is to apply a band-aid on a gaping wound; it will not hold for long. The words are not given as a panacea; they are simply a fact. They are not some kind of mantra to chant, but a truth for faith to lay hold on. I sounds simple, I know, but I am also aware that the laying-hold-of may seem just out of reach to many. Here I defer to the Holy Spirit to do what only He can do: change what is real into reality.
I offer these few words to those of you who I know live with these fears and anxieties, as well as others of you I am not aware of. I offer them not from a scientific mind but from a sympathetic heart. God says to us, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love” (Jer.31:3); and the New Testament tells us, “There is no fear in love” (1Jno.4:18). May these words light up the dark corners in your life today.