The other day when I stumbled across a phobias list that included fear of spiders, snakes, dogs, heights, enclosed spaces, thunder/lightening, fear of flying, and germs.
Sure, we all have fears, but according to the Helpguide.org website, “when fears become so severe that they cause tremendous anxiety and interfere with your normal life, they’re called phobias.”
People can have phobias of just about anything. Some, we hear a lot about, others, not so much. We probably all know someone who is afraid of spiders, heights, or speaking in public.
Some phobias are well known, such as Trypanophobia, or the fear of needles. According to Pharmajet.com, a mere 50 million Americans have this fear.
And there are some phobias that seem a little bizarre, to say the least. For instance, linonophobia, the fear of string, pogonophobia, the fear of beards, phobaphobia, the fear of phobias, or hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia, the fear of long words. (Say that fast five times!)
When I was seven years old and walking with my younger sister down a dirt road in our rural town, we came across a snake slithering directly in front of us. I shrieked, and grabbing my sister’s hand, spun around and scrambled toward the trailer on my grandparents’ property where we were living while our new house was being built. My mom, with my newborn brother in her arms, stepped onto the porch when she heard our shrieks. She would tell me later (after much comforting), that I was running so fast down that hill with my long blond braids flying that my sister’s feet weren’t even touching the ground as I pulled her along to safety.
Ever since that day, I’ve had ophidiophobia, or fear of snakes.
As an outdoorsy-type person who loves to spend time biking, hiking, jogging, and power walking, I do, occasionally, stumble across a slithering nemesis.
According to Verywellmind.com, “approximately 10 percent of people in the U.S. have specific phobias, 7.1 percent experience social phobias, and 0.9 percent have agoraphobia.” (fear of leaving one’s home).
Some fears and phobias can be life-altering. People who struggle on a day-to-day basis with these fears know this all too well. There are a variety of treatments for phobias, and some are extremely effective.
The Bible discusses fear often. God knew that His children would struggle with this problem. I heard years ago that the Lord tells us not to fear 365 times in His Word. Wow – 365 times! As someone who struggles with fear, it encourages me to know that God cares about this predicament I find myself in, and not just when I encounter snakes, but also the other fears that crowd my thoughts in this crazy world I call my temporary home.
He reassures me I am never alone in my fear.
God also consoles us in our fears. He doesn’t leave us there to walk through those valleys alone, but rather takes our hand and guides us through those moments when the panic sets in.
And finally, He reminds us that He didn’t create us to be fearful, and He doesn’t intend for us to live this way.
So while extreme phobias and fears may require a treatment plan that includes counseling and/or medication, the most important fear-fighter we have on our side is our faith – and our prayers. The best thing I can do in those moments of fear is to return my eyes to the One who holds my very life in His hands.
The One who tenderly reminds me not to fear.