Phobia – What it is

Phobias are persistent, irrational fears of an object or a situation, but fears that present no real threat.

Gideon had a very real and legitimate fear that he would die, his fear didn’t go away despite God’s assurances and call on his life. Following the spectacular experience involving the offering (that the angel of the Lord incinerated), God instructs Gideon to tear down his father’s altar to Baal and cut down his Asherah pole – items of pagan worship – and build an altar to Him. Gideon obeys … but only in the cover of night because “he was afraid of his family and the men of the town” (Judges 6:27). Oddly enough, God called this man to defeat an entire army – of well over 100,000 – a fearful man … afraid of his own family.

And while some people like Gideon experience a profound fear triggered by a particular circumstance – others experience a paralysing fear without the slightest provocation. This unwarranted fear is called a phobia.

What is Phobias?

  • Phobias are persistent, irrational fears of an object or a situation—but fears that present no real threat.
  • Phobia, the English word, comes from the Greek word phobos, which means “fear, flight or dread.” In the New Testament the word for fear is usually phobos, which in the Greek language first had the meaning of “flight,” and then later it referred to “that which may cause flight.”
  • Phobias grow out of fear when: The fear is clearly excessive and irrational (being out of proportion to the actual degree of threat); The fear is associated with avoidance behaviours (deliberately doing things differently to avoid becoming afraid); The fear is associated with decreased quality of life (curtailing enjoyment in life).

Phobic disorders consist of persistent, irrational fears that impair a person’s ability to function normally.

  • If a phobia causes no major disturbance in a person’s lifestyle (such as having an excessive fear of snakes, but rarely ever seeing a snake), it is not considered a disorder.
  • However, a phobic disorder gains such power in a person’s life that it drives that person’s thoughts, perceptions, and actions to the point that the entire life is affected (such as a fear of darkness or of people).
  • Those suffering with a phobic disorder experience the most extreme form of fear.
  • Not only are they in a constant state of hyper-alertness, but also their fear continuously controls their activities, limits their lives, and drastically diminishes their quality of life.

The one who suffers could easily say, “Fear and trembling seized me and made all my bones shake.” (Job 4:14)