The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ‘Phobia’ as: “an exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation.” This definition may sound harsh, and perhaps, that is why so many Americans suffer in silence. According to Christian Nordqvist, 35 million Americans suffer from a phobia. These range from Arachnophobia (fear of spiders) to Zoophobia (fear of animals). Some fears are more common than others, for instance, Arachnophobia is actually the number one phobia in America and my own, personal fear of driving (more on this later) clocks in at number six on the top ten most common list. Some may seem obscure, such as: Pogonophobia (fear of beards), Papaphobia (fear of the Pope), or Hylophobia (fear of trees). Nevertheless, each of these phobias constitute a real threat to many people, and subsequently cause real symptoms to manifest themselves in the lives of those who suffer with them.
Our culture has options for those seeking to overcome their phobia. Often, this encompasses some form of prescription pills, and perhaps, a few counseling sessions. Now, I implore you, do not misunderstand what I am saying. Prescription pills and counseling are not inherently bad, and in fact, can be quite beneficial to some people. However, what I do wish to submit to you is that, often, these methods do not cure as much as they simply cover. What ends up happening is that instead of learning to overcome their fear, a suffering patient becomes reliant upon a pill, provided by a well-intentioned doctor, to mask the symptoms of their fear. Thus, the sweaty palms, racing heartbeat, and trembling voice may be quelled while the underlying fear is still ravaging the mind. Thankfully, God has another option.
The Bible has much to say about fear, but for the sake of being concise, I would like to highlight just a few verses. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid”(John 14:27 ESV). We are told “For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). Perhaps, best of all, God’s Word promises, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isiah 41:10). The Lord’s prescription for fear does not merely mask fear, it drives it out. Trust in faith and ask in prayer. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God” (Philippians 4:6).
I previously shared with you that I have personally experienced a phobia of driving. Nearly five years ago, I was involved in an auto accident leading to my first car being totaled. This experience was traumatic for me to the point that I vehemently avoided the act of driving. It took me years to understand what it was I was truly afraid of. I was terrified of losing control and being alone/helpless, simultaneously, should another accident occur. I am overjoyed to share with you that I am back on the road again because I have faith in the sovereignty and love of God. I am learning to drive a car without fear because I can trust the Lord to protect me, and I now understand there are no accidents. God is always in control and everything has a purpose. His purpose. It is good and for His glory.
The purpose of my traumatic experience nearly five years ago? Writing this. Connecting other fearful people to hope, to Jesus.