Apr 30

The Arithmetic of Fear

2008 at 5:56 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Fear & Anxiety

I think it is fair to say that women (at least it’s true of the four women that write for girltalk!) can be prone to fear. And oh what ludicrous thoughts and images we can conjure up! So preposterous, we’d laugh at ourselves… that is, if we hadn’t worked ourselves into such a frenzy of fright.

Puritan John Flavel comments on this habit: “The rules of fear are not like the rules in arithmetic, where many nothings make nothing, but fear can make something out of nothing, yea, many things, and great things out of nothing at all.”

Stockxpertcom_id8046202_size0 Now, I’m no math expert, but I do spend many evenings helping my teenage son with Algebra homework. I know that if x and y both equal zero, than the answer is zero. Not so when it comes to the irrationality of fear.

Take Psalm 53:5 for example, says Flavel: “There they are, in great terror, where there is no terror!” He writes: “Here was a great fear raised or created out of nothing at all; had their fear been examined or hunted home to its original, it would have been found a pure creature of fancy.”

How many of our great fears have been created out of nothing at all? And proved, in the end, to equal nothing at all?

But in Scripture we find something real and rational and comforting. Here’s Flavel one more time. “In the written word are found all sorts of refreshing, strengthening and heart-reviving promises prepared by the wisdom and care of God for our relief”

So let’s find relief with this refreshing, strengthening and heart-reviving promise: “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” (Is. 41:10).