Icon by Dahlia Herring, American Association of Iconographers
“... Then Peter got out of the boat, walked on water and came towards Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Matthew 14:30
Truth to be told, fear is a natural human emotion rooted from the feeling of being vulnerable and out of control. Neurologically speaking, when we feel fear, our primitive part of the brain, the amygdala, produces a powerful hormone (adrenaline) to prepare our body for a fight or flight reaction. When this happens, the oxygen that normally feeds our intelligent part of the brain (prefrontal cortex – that is responsible for rational thinking), is being diverted to our leg and arm muscles to prepare us to fight or run from danger.
Fear, in other words, is an important emotion when we are faced with life threatening predators such as alligators or a boxing kangaroo (smile). BUT, it is a double-edged sword. It serves us well to survive from danger, yet can turn us into an irrational, dumb and sometimes cruel human being because our intelligent part of the brain has been ‘switched off’ by the loss of oxygen supply. This is a neurological explanation of why, in general, people make bad decisions or behave irrationally when they are afraid. The most recent example was rage at the toilet paper roll isle caused by FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), which, funny enough in year 2020, caused a global shortage of toilet paper rolls. Just as Peter sank into the water when his faith wavered and caused him to fear, we ‘sank’ due to the debilitating power of fear in our brain – causing us to think toilet paper rolls were crucial to our survival in 2020 against COVID-19.
Fortunately, God has blessed us with the antidote of fear: 365 verses in the bible (Link) – one for each day that says, “Do not fear!” (my favourite one is from Joshua 1:9 (NIV), “... Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go”). Just like any medicine though, you not only need to drink it, but your body also needs to be able to absorb it. So, go on, open your bible, read it, and absorb it with the secret ingredient of unwavering, courageous FAITH (Matthew 14:27,31).
What is faith? Is it blindly believing in something? You may find it hard to believe: my beautiful little girl Faith taught me about faith when she was two years old. She used to love jumping off from high places into our arms. No matter how tired my husband or I was, she trusted us with all her heart that we will definitely catch her! Interestingly, she trusted us not because she loved us, but because we first loved her. In parallel, Jesus first loved us. He showed his love through the ultimate sacrifice on the cross, where he turned hatred (that was directed at Him) into an expression of love. Take courage, if you have welcomed Him into your heart, you can count on Him to catch you when you fall! What then, are you waiting for? Take that leap of faith!
Lastly, I pray that those who have been saved will be able to shine Jesus’s light onto others, so His love will trump over fear. Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV) teaches how we can do this, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature, God, (but, He) did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!”
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Cor 13:14, NIV)