Fear causes people to do stupid things.
Last week a patient came in for a visit. She has diabetes, high blood pressure, significant anemia and a history of blood clots. Since she has so many medical problems I had instructed her to come in for follow up at three month intervals. Over a year had gone by since I had seen her last. It had taken multiple phone calls from staff and a refusal to refill a medication to finally get her to return.
I asked her why it had taken so long.
"I was afraid," was her answer, "I thought you would be mad at me!"
Even though this was not the first time someone has declared me to be a frightening person I was still surprised. I am her doctor, not her dad! What is there to be afraid of? I can't really do anything to her, I have no way to punish her, yet she was afraid. All I want for her is for her to be healthy, to help her help herself. Why would she be afraid?
The answer is simple. She is afraid because she is a person, and people live in fear of things.
While the specific fears may vary, we all are afraid of something. We are afraid of big things such as death, disability and financial ruin, and we are afraid of little things such as embarrassment, darkness and spiders. (Why is it that EVERY nurse that has ever worked me is afraid of spiders?)
And yet, the Bible tells us that fear is a completely useless feeling, that it has no place at all in the life of a believer. Why? John the Apostle explained in a letter to the church- "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment."
He makes the point that while people are afraid of bad things happening to them, Christians need not be because we are perfectly and completely loved by God and need not fear ultimate punishment.
Earlier in his letter he described the love that God has for His people, writing "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"
We are so like my patient. God loves us, cares for us and sent His Son to die for us, yet we hide from Him due to a foolish and misguided fear of punishment.
We need to set our fear aside and see ourselves as He sees us, as perfectly loved children. Children loved by a gracious Father who will never forsake us.