My wife and I recently had an experience on an airplane flight which was a first for us. The flight was boarded and the door was shut. We had already gone through the normal pre-flight safety talks and were taxiing out to the main runway, when the person next to us unbuckled his seatbelt and jumped and walked briskly to the front of the plane. The stewardess tried to get the man to sit down, but he was clearly agitated and was undeterred. As it turned out, he was having a panic attack. He had become so overwhelmed by fear that he had insisted that he must get off the plane. The stewardess spoke with the pilot and, quite mercifully, he decided to return to the gate and let him off the plane.
After everything calmed down and we were back on the runway, his friend (who remained on the flight) explained to those close by that his friend was very fearful about flying. We inquired if he had always had this fear. To our surprise he said that his friend had flown fairly regularly all of his life. However, in the wake of the downed Russian plane and other terrorist events in recent days he had developed a heightened fear of flying. I think we can all relate to this story.
The whole experience reminded me of the power of fear. We live in a day when fear has raised its ugly head at every turn. We fear terrorism. We fear the unknown. We fear economic collapse. We fear a falling stock market. We fear for our health. We live in a culture obsessed with safety which also has the unintended consequence of fueling fear. There is quite a bit of fear which is driving the current political climate.
This is the time to remember Psalm 11. The psalm personifies the voice of fear: “Flee like a bird to your mountain. For look the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” These few verses give us the two main objectives of fear. First, fear always calls us to withdraw from the world so we can find a place of safety. Second, it tells us that things have gone so awry, there is nothing we as the people of God can do to restore hope. However, Jesus reminds us that even though we will have trouble in this world, we need not fear because He has overcome the world. We have been called to boldly enter this world, with all of its brokenness. We must be bearers of hope in the midst of fear. One of the most important messages we can bear today is that we do not need to live in fear, because God is in control!