6/19/2014

The Worst and Best Fear


A new fear or phobia, which was not even an idea in my youth, has popped up among the electronically-wired generation today. To them, our ancient fears below may now be utterly prosaic:   

Acrophobia (fear of height). Today's kids go bunjee jumping and ziplining, and are into extreme sports.

Arachnophobia (fear of spiders). Computer-generated movies now feature gigantic spiders the size of buildings and young audiences lap them up—the creepier the better.

Ophidiophobia (fear of snakes). Current TV food channels show exotic serpents made into delectable recipes. Reality TV feature people fondling snakes.  

Cynophobia (fear of dogs). Pets are all the rage; dog clinics, shops and salons abound; dogs sleep on their masters’ beds. 

Astraphobia (fear of thunder and lightning). This century's eardrum-breaking music on ear phones are louder than claps of thunder. 

Trypanophobia (fear of injections). Tattoos, tattoos, tattoos.

‘Nuf said.

So now comes the world’s worst fear. Nine out of every 10 people aged under 30 admit to suffering this new phenomenon: Nomophobia. The fear of having No Mobile phone.

These self-confessed addicts spend four to six hours a day on their mobile phone, checking it every ten minutes, and placing it next to their bed at night (it’s the new Teddy bear). They become anxious when their phone loses reception, runs out of battery, or is misplaced.    

Have mobile phones become as addictive as shabu, cigarettes, and gambling?

On the upside, older people are in no danger of being nomophobic. Often I forget to check my phone, or bring it with me when I leave home. I don’t take it to bed nor to the bathroom. I don’t get panic attacks if it is missing. 

Up until two weeks ago, I had a dumb Nokia phone. Now that I have been persuaded into buying my new smartphone, I am struggling with the how to use it. It will take dollops of grace for me to master half of its functions. 

In contrast to this worst fear is the best fear—a fear that does not cause panic nor irrational behavior. We read about it in the Bible at least 300 times: Fear of the Lord.

Scripture is full of examples of how fearing God is a positive thing. Joseph wins his brothers' trust when he declares he is a God-fearing man . . . it was because the midwives feared God that they obeyed Him and spared the Hebrew babies from the authorities . . . Pharoah brought disaster on his nation because he did not fear God . . . Moses chose leaders who feared God and therefore wouldn't take bribes. There are many more.

In the New Testament (Matthew 10:28), Jesus states this even stronger, "Don't be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell."

Fearing God saves us from caving into irrational fears such as nomophobia. That's why hearing someone is God-fearing actually makes us trust that person more. People who fear God become sensitive to other people’s needs because their thoughts are not centered on worldly gadgets.  

Fearing God frees us from even the worst fear in the world.

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