Have you ever been in a situation that scared you to the point that you didn’t know what to do or how to handle it? Have you ever allowed fear to control your decision-making? Have you ever wondered what to do when you are scared to do anything? Maybe some of these situations sound familiar:
“I’ve lied to my parents about something, and I know I need to make it right, but I’m afraid of what might happen if I tell them the truth.”
“I’m being bullied, but if I tell someone, I’m afraid of what might happen. I don’t know what to do.”
“I know I need to talk to my friends about Jesus, but I’m scared of what might happen if I do.”
“I’ve made some bad decisions and I’m afraid of what the consequences might be. I don’t know what to do next.”
In this series of articles, we are going to examine 3 different approaches to fear, along with the results of each approach, and what the Bible has to say about them.
APPROACH #1: THE “FROZEN BY FEAR” APPROACH
What does this particular approach to fear look like? Consider the following scenario:
We are faced with a situation (perhaps similar to the ones described above) that scares us. In our mind, we have weighed all of our options and we are afraid of what might happen if we pursue ANY of them. Because of this overwhelming fear, we decide to do nothing and just “see what happens.” We might avoid the person/people associated with the situation, and we have probably tried to convince ourselves that the situation will just “go away.” We aren’t doing this because we have prayed about it and we believe that this is the wisest and most biblical way to handle it; we are doing this because we are afraid.
Why would a person take this approach to fear?
Maybe we have no good examples or role models for how to handle scary situations, or maybe our past experiences in scary situations have taught us that doing nothing is better than making things worse. Maybe we don’t trust anyone to help us in these situations, or maybe we are blinded – for whatever reason – to some better options.
Things such as isolation, distrust, “tunnel vision,” and a decreasing desire/ability to think and reason logically typically accompany this approach. In other words, we might find ourselves trying to escape an inescapable situation, and we may have convinced ourselves that this is possible.
In Scripture, this approach is modeled by the “1-talent man” in the parable of the talents, contained in Matthew 25:14-30. Let’s take a look and see what happened:
The master of a large estate went on a journey and left 3 of his servants in charge, each receiving a specific amount of money, “according to his own ability” (vs. 15). 2 of these servants were good stewards of what had been entrusted to them and they doubled the amount that the master had given them (vs. 20-23). The man who had been entrusted with 1 talent (which would have been a substantial amount of money) buried it in the ground and did nothing with it, presumably because he was “afraid” of the master (vs. 24-25).
The problem with this approach is seen at the conclusion of the parable: the 1-talent servant was punished severely by his master because he did NOTHING with what was given to him (vs. 26-30). He was “frozen by fear,” and he paid dearly for it.
What can we learn about this approach towards fear?
First of all, we are ALL included in this parable. We have all been entrusted with “abilities” and “opportunities,” and God expects some “return” on His investment. I would imagine that, in the process of doubling their master’s investment, the 5-talent and 2-talent servants had to conquer some “fears,” wouldn’t you? In other words, the “scary situations” we often find ourselves in are “opportunities” that God believes we can learn/grow from, and that will produce “fruit” for Him if we push through them.
When we allow our fear to paralyze us into doing nothing with those opportunities, we take a serious spiritual risk.
May we resolve not to be “frozen by fear,” and may God help us to look for godly, wise opportunities in the midst of scary situations!