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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN


Full of Cheer or Full of Fear?

Cullen Hightower said, "We experience moments absolutely free from worry. These brief respites are called panic." Panic may be more prominent than we would like to think. Someone noted you can see the face of panic in a car with the sign "Student Driver" - not on the driver, but on the face in the passenger seat. We live in an age of apprehension and fear. Social scientists have identified an almost endless list of things people are afraid of. Some suffer from peladophobia (fear of baldness and bald people) while others suffer from chaetophobia (fear of hairy people). Some are afflicted with levophobia (fear of objects on the left side of the body) while other are have to deal with dextrophobia (fear of objects on the right side of the body). Graphophobia is the fear experienced by those with a fear of writing in public. And what if you are afraid of being afraid? Then your problem is phobophobia. You may have been phobia-free when you started reading this, but by now you could be experiencing calyprophobia fear of obscure meanings! Other fears include fear of the dark, fear of death, fear of getting married, fear of getting divorced, fear of getting old, fear of not getting old (dying young), fear of getting cancer or AIDS, fear our children will get hurt or get high or get pregnant or get someone pregnant, fear about being raped or robbed, fears about retirement, fears about terrorism and WMD's (weapons of mass destruction) and war, etc. To battle these fears modem Americans turn to resources ranging from "safe rooms" and security systems to pills to physicians to procedures to psychiatrists to prisons to gas masks and duct tape!

Jesus offers us help in facing our fears. In Mark 6:48-50 the apostles are in a boat in a storm on the Sea of Galilee about 3 a.m. When Jesus comes "walking on the sea," the apostles, quite understandably, "cried out; for they all saw Him and were troubled" (the NIV says "terrified"). Amazingly, Jesus did not pass out life-jackets or Dramamine or tell them to get a grip. He simply said, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid." He expects their fear to be transformed into cheer (courage), not because the storm is absent but because He is present! What fills your heart when the storms of life slam into your boat and threaten to drown you in an ocean of fear and anxiety? What do you do for the phobias and fears for which there is no pill or prescription or procedure? The One who walked on water and calms the stormy sea can calm your troubled heart. Ultimately, the cure for our phobias is not in the absence of stress but in the presence of the Savior. When the storms of life come, let Jesus fill you with cheer instead of fear.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ