Fear – What it is

Imagine being terrorised … your life continually threatened … your heart gripped with fear. Imagine every day … waking to the thought: This day could be my last day – the last for my family – the last for my friends! Imagine living in the constant fear of being burglarised and brutalised … vandalised and victimised … mauled and murdered.

Now, all of a sudden, someone appears out of the blue instructing you to do the unthinkable – take action and fight those you fear! But such an idea is impossible – even preposterous – especially for Gideon (Judges 6) … who is inclined to flee in the face of fear.

Now, imagine trying to thresh wheat in a winepress … of all places! To thresh – to separate the chaff from the wheat – a gentle breeze in the outdoor air is needed to winnow the chaff. As all is thrown up into the air, both chaff and wheat, the wind blows away the lightweight chaff, and the heavier wheat falls to the ground. But … in a winepress the surrounding walls prevent the wind from blowing in the center and threshing is not likely to be effective.

So here you are in hiding … fearing for your life … fighting an uphill battle … for a few grains of wheat. At this point, the angel of the Lord appears, saying, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” … He addresses you as … what? What’s this … mighty warrior? Who … you?

What precisely is Fear after all?

Imagine … being asked to do something you know you can’t do. Like Gideon (Judges 6), rather than attempting to meet the challenge, you find yourself responding, “Thanks – but no thanks. You’ve got the w…r…o…n…g person.”

However, the angel announces that you are to lead the battle against your greatest enemy – an enemy that vastly outnumbers your army – one greatly feared by everyone … and feared for good reason! The mammoth Midianites have been ravaging and ransacking your people at will, leaving death and destruction in their wake.

How? “Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites [and other enemies] invaded the country. They … ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys” (Judges 6:3–4). Understandably, your heart is terrorised with fear.

  • Fear is a strong emotional reaction to a perceived imminent danger characterised by a fight, flight, or freeze response.
  • Fear can be real or imagined, rational or irrational, normal or abnormal.
  • Fear acts as a protective reaction, placed in us by our Creator to activate all of our physical defense systems when we face real danger. Fear triggers the release of adrenaline in the body that both prepares and propels us to action often called “fight or flight.”
  • Fear is a natural emotion designed by God. However, fearfulness is not designed by God, for fearfulness suggests living in a state of fear.
  • Fear is a translation of the Hebrew word “yare,” which means “to be afraid, stand in awe or fear.” When Gideon was trying to thresh wheat in the winepress and the angel of the Lord appeared to him, “He was afraid.” (Judges 6:27)