OPENING ACTIVITY: What Is Fear?
How would you describe fear? One of the popular acronyms for the word fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. Ask your students how they would describe fear and if they would say it is a major influence in their lives in some way. Perhaps fear keeps them from going out at night or even from coming to church sometimes.
OPENING STORY: [Make copies of the story for your students, or read it aloud.]
FEAR IS NATURAL, BUT THERE IS HOPE
Bernie Raymond, chaplain at the Cross Road Retirement Community in Burlington, North Carolina, and assistant pastor at God Outreach Ministries sees many people who are dealing with fear, and he wrote these suggestions for all of us in the local Times-News newspaper:
I have thought about the subject of fear often. We all have a certain amount of fear. For instance, most of us have a fear of the IRS, that we may be called in for an audit of our tax return. Some of us have an instant fear when we see a police car pull in behind us on the highway. If we are obeying the law, it shouldn’t bother us, but it seems to bring on that faster heart beat anyway.
The truth be known, we are born with only two fears: The fear of falling (not the fear of heights) and the fear of an unexpected loud sound. Everything else is a learned fear passed down from generations before us. Terrors in the night are a great problem for many today, children and adults alike. Fears of the dark remain with some children well into their adult lives.
There are all kinds of fears. I have a counseling encyclopedia with more phobias than I care to count. The meaning of a phobia is “an irrational persistent fear or dread.”
Please don’t think that I am making light of some people’s fears. I know that to some, fear is a reality that they live with on a daily basis. I just want to share with you what the Bible says about this subject.
The 91st Psalm is a very good place to start. In verses four and five, it says, “He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day.” Simply meaning, if you trust in God and live in His “secret place,” He is going to take care of you.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But wait, there is more. In the Book of Matthew, the eighth chapter, in verses 23-27, Jesus was asleep in the boat when a great storm arose and the disciples awoke Jesus saying, “We are going to die, save us.” Then in verse 26, Jesus said, “Why are you so fearful, O you of little faith?” I don’t know about you, but I probably would have been like those disciples.
The thing I want you to notice is that Jesus asked why they were fearful. Did you notice also that they came to Jesus when they were afraid? Where else could they go?
The thing that we must realize is that our fears do not come from God. Second Timothy, chapter one, verse seven, says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” The Book of James, first chapter, verse 17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of Lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”
David said in the 23rd Psalm, in verse four, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
I have spoken with combat veterans of several wars, including those who fought in trenches and fox holes, in jungle warfare and desert sands, and they all tell the same story, that you don’t fear until you have reached a safe place. While you are running for cover from gunfire, the adrenaline takes over, and you don’t think about anything but getting to a safe place. Once there, that is when you think about the danger you just went through.
I know from some of my military friends that the old fear sometimes comes back to haunt them, but some have told me that they have conquered the old fear through the blood of Jesus. In conclusion, I have to say if you believe in Jesus as your Savior and Lord, then you can dwell in the secret place of the Most High and be safe from fear (Ps. 91:1).
Now ask your class to form small groups to discuss their answers to these questions.
- Have you experienced the two fears discussed in the article? Explain your answer.
- What other fears do you have?
- Why can we have hope instead of fear?