All of us know it. Some of us have conquered it. Others it rules. It can protect us, or it can stop us at every turn. It can be guided by reason or slay all reason in its path. A step becomes a precipice. A mouse becomes a lion. No one wants to be pitied, but there is nothing so pitiful as one imprisoned by insubstantial bars of unreasoning fear. Woe to those who would help such a one. Like a wounded animal who cannot distinguish between friend and foe, he or she will strike out at these kind souls and no one will be the better.
What is the solution? It has been said that faith is the opposite of fear. Maybe that is true. Certainly if one trusts in God he need not fear, but I believe that something else comes first. John the disciple says that “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…” (John 4:18.) Yes, I’m robbing the context a little and I generally don’t like to do that, but I think the point I want to make is safe. Trust begins with love. That same passage says that we love God because He loved us first. We learn to trust him because He took the initiative.
When we observe someone who is trapped in fear, we need to first show them love. It’s going to be hard and it’s going to take a long time. But over time we will begin to build trust and then maybe we can start to deal with the issues at the root of the fear. I write as if I know something about this. These are reflections based on observation and trying to walk through my own life in a way that is pleasing to Yahweh. I’ve had limited experience trying to put them into practice. We’ll see what I think of them in a few years.