Fear is a funny thing. It can make a grown man scream like a child. It can make the strongest one among us look weak. It has the ability to paralyze the most able bodied person. When we see someone who is afraid of something we’re not afraid of, we tend to laugh and make fun. When we see someone stuck in a situation because of fear, we are rarely empathetic because we don’t take the time to put ourselves in their shoes.
I have a coworker who tells the story that he was riding in the car with someone going down the freeway. They were talking and having a good time until the driver freezes up and gets serious. He asked what was wrong and the driver motions with his head to look left. Confused, he asked, “What?!?” The driver whispered, “There’s a spider on the window.” He laughed and said, “Are you serious?” He then reached across the driver to swat it, but realized if he knocked it down, they’d have a wreck. He pinched it and threw it out the window. Immediately the driver went back to normal.
He laughs and so do others when he tells the story and does all the animation that goes with it. Then he tells how he asked the driver why he’s afraid of spiders. The driver said that when he was young, he was swimming in a pool and there was a spider on the water. As it came near to him, he tried to use waves to push it away. It kept coming though. He ended up taking his hand and slapped down on the water to kill it. When he hit it, immediately hundreds of baby spiders went everywhere. He was covered in them and couldn’t get away. Since then he’s been afraid.
It’s easy to make fun of someone’s fear until we understand it. Each one of us are afraid of something ourselves, so why don’t we encourage others who are afraid? There are people around us who are starting over in life and they’re afraid. There are people who have to move for work and are afraid they won’t find friendships like those they’re leaving behind. Some are having to go where God is calling them, but it’s taking more faith than they think they have. Each one of these needs empathy and encouragement.
When Jesus was walking on the water towards the boat full of disciples, they were terrified. Twelve grown men were screaming like little children. Then, one voice pierced through the storm and their screams. It said, “Take courage! I AM! Stop being afraid!” Jesus’ call to them goes out to us today. Whatever we’re facing, we can take courage through Him. He reminded them and us that He is God. And finally, he commands us to stop being afraid. We can have courage and know He is God and still be paralyzed by being afraid. Don’t let that happen. Stop being afraid and follow where God leads.