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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

February 13, 2015

Fear, the mental paralysis

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

Recently my four year old grandson Dylan asked me about zombies. He has never seen the television series "The Walking Dead", but it influences him anyway because there is almost a zombie mania in the USA among the fans of the show. He was apparently afraid of zombies, so I told him that they are just fantasy, they don't really exist and we don't need to be afraid of them.

Then I told him a story from my own childhood. At the age of seven I went to the movies with my sister, who is two years older than I am. We wanted to see a movie about a space ship on a journey. The movie, however, became a nightmare for me, because the story revolved around a black, slimy monster that kept on growing and was devouring the spaceship's crew.

For the eight children in our family there wasn't sufficient room in the three bedrooms of our house, so I slept with my brother in the basement. For days after the movie, I had trouble falling asleep because the shadowy corners of the basement reminded me of the slimy space monster. I finally convinced myself that it was just a movie.

In later conversations with Dylan he said spontaneously: "Zombies are fantasy, right? They aren't really real."

There are fears that can be called normal because they promote proper caution and prevention. They are a "prophylactic fear" of injury or accidents because we aren't careful, or of illness because we don't eat properly and get enough exercise, etc.

Then there are fears of things like zombies or monsters that are irrational and paralyze us.

On one occasion Jesus scolded His disciples because of their fear: "Suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, Lord, save us! We are perishing! But He said to them, Why are you fearful, O you of little faith? Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm" (Matthew 8:24-26).

A nice story for Sunday school, is how some would view this story. But there is a lot of meaning to it!

If God is with us, then we need not fear the storms of life, because God has promised never to leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). If God is with us and we fear the storms of life, then we are lacking in faith! And that fear will hinder our development as Christians, because fear paralyzes and prevents us from doing the needs we need to do to please God.

Jesus tells us that we should not fear what men can do to us. We should only fear what God can do to us (Matthew 10:28).

So, what are we afraid of?

With these thoughts I wish everyone a rewarding Sabbath!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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