Sunday, September 18, 2005

Conquering the Dragon

Controlling the Fear That Controls Your Life
Dr. Noah H. Kersey, Ph.D.

Fear can be a paralyzing force in our lives, but it can also be an invigorating power that drives us to overcome adversity and tragedy that is thrown into our paths.

On March 4, 1933 in his first presidential inaugural speech, Franklin Delano Roosevelt asserted his firm belief that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself". Years later, on December 7, 1941 in his "this day in infamy" speech resulting from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he withheld his comments about fear, indirectly admitting that there was much more to fear in life than fear itself.

There are basically two types of fear:

Godly fear is that which protects us from real danger. The fear of standing in front of a speeding bus, or the fear of falling from the tenth floor of a building is an example of God protecting us from real, not imaginary, danger. A healthy respect for this kind of fear is what will keep us alive in a life-threatening situation.

Worldly fear, or neurotic fear, is the powerful apprehension or anxiety about things or events that cannot really hurt us but paralyzes us from being able to function properly in life and separates us from God.

Satan thrives on and delights in our fears, just as he does on other negative emotions such as anger, despair and greed. The forces of evil know that it is difficult for Christians to be able to trust God and be afraid at the same time. Faith in God and fear are negatively correlated in that when one increases, the other decreases.

Imaginary danger is being afraid of something that cannot, in fact, really hurt you. It is what could be referred to as a 'puppy dog' because it poses no threat to your life or health. The fear of darkness, being alone, failure, rejection, are all 'puppy dogs'. They may be unpleasant just as house-breaking a new dog might be, but it will not create any lasting damage in your life, just discomfort.

Real danger can result in very serious emotional, psychological or physical damage to you or your life. Stepping into the path of a speeding car, or falling off a precipitous mountain are very dangerous situations and God programmed us to experience fear of these situations to keep us alive and well.

When we respond to innocuous situations as though they were dangerous or lethal events, then we are responding to the puppy dog as though it were a 'dragon'. This paralyzes us from being all that God wants us to be.

Worldly fear not only separates us from a close relationship with the Lord, but it damages our mental and physical health. Dr. Charles Mayo of the Mayo Clinic states that fear affects our hearts, circulation, and various glands of our bodies. It can result in our immune system turning on us and doing harm when it should be protecting us from external infections.

The Bible teaches us "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard [or protect] your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus" [Philippians 4:6-7]. This scripture is a direct declaration that we are not to be afraid of that which cannot hurt us. According to 1 Peter 5:6-7, we are to humble ourselves under God's protection and He will lift us at the correct time, to cast all our fears on the Lord because he cares for us.

When faced with a troublesome situation, ask, is this a puppy dog, or is it a dragon?

If it is a puppy dog do not overreact and be paralyzed by the situation as if it were a real dragon. Be calm and think through the event and "be anxious for nothing". Face the fear directly and use it as a motivating force to help you strive for success. Pray and ask the Lord for courage.

Courage and faith are what conquers the dragons in our lives.

Courage is the willingness to do something even though we are afraid, and faith is having confidence in the Lord even when you cannot always feel His presence.

Psalm 34:4 states "I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears".

Conquering the dragon is controlling the fear that controls your life.

Dr. Kersey is a licensed psychologist and has been practicing in Indiana since 1987. He can be reached at or through his website

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