Understanding the Root of Fear

By Chris Cunningham
Local Outreach Coordinator

A person's face hiding in the shadows

Fear is a good thing. Our ancestors relied on fear to inform them of oncoming danger. They used it to interpret the presence of a nearby predator or to sense the signs of an oncoming natural disaster. Fear is an integral part of the human experience. What then, is fear? Fear is the biological warning that some danger is soon to befall us. This fear, handed down to us from our ancestors, is useful but often irrational. We no longer have to live in fear of being eaten by a saber-toothed tiger (not most of us anyway), but there are potential disasters that could be far more terrifying…

She could be cheating…

He could die of cancer…

Your boss could fire your whole department…

When we talk about disasters or world-shattering events, what do we say?

“I never saw it coming.”

“He was the sweetest guy, I would have never thought.”

“It was just a normal day and then…”

Disasters elude the human eye and slip through human fingers. They disrupt the rhythm of our daily lives, reminding us how fragile reality actually is.

Fear then, represents the deep-seated human desire to control our world. Out of fear we begin to believe that we can be omnipotent or sovereign in some way: “Maybe if I lose enough weight, he won’t leave me for someone else.” “If I can make enough money, then we won’t have to worry about the bank taking our house.” But in reality, you and I have very little control over anything.

And disaster… it’s coming for all of us. It came for my wife the day her dad called her, “Christina, I’ve been unfaithful to your mom.” The other day, Christina and I were discussing fear and she said, “I don’t ever want to have to get another call.” But she will. Disasters remind us of how little control we have over our world. Even if Christina never has to get another call like the one her dad made to her that fall day, she can’t prevent her body from giving out. Even if she never gets another call, she can’t guarantee our apartment won’t collapse on us as we sleep.

You are not in control. Disaster will come in your life. So now what?

I believe there’s something hidden within these two concepts of fear and impending doom; an often overlooked truth that lies in plain sight of those who are willing to be still. Fear is inevitable because there will always be something out of our control causing anxiety. Disaster is a reality bound only by time; live long enough and it will visit you. But when we acknowledge both and take time to sit in between the two, we enter into the divine reality, the place where Jesus lives, praying for us as we reach for control of our lives. In this reality we encounter the voice of God, the voice that gives us strength to press on, the voice that calls us to act, to trust, to hope even when hope seems to be nothing but a distant light hiding behind rain clouds. This is faith.

The divine reality lives right in the middle of fear and doom, a light shining in the darkness, calling out to us,

Fear not little children… for it is God’s will to give you the Kingdom
(Luke 6:32)

When you’ve been hurt, when disaster strikes mercilessly, a fight for control seems to be the most logical response. Find an answer and make some sense of this chaos.

But I have to believe there’s another path…

And I pray that you would find your feet walking that unfamiliar path today. After your deepest fears have become a reality and disaster has struck with devastating force, my prayer for you my brother, my sister, is that in your confusion you would find the strength to stagger into the divine reality.

Grand Canyon University is a Christian college with a biblically rooted mission. To learn more about GCU’s Christian Identity and Heritage, visit our website or request more information by using the button at the top of this page.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.