Fear: Normal vs. Abnormal

Gideon’s fear is understandable. His enemy is real. His life is in real danger. He has “normal” fear. God has proven Himself to be powerful and trustworthy. God does not deny Gideon’s fear and the dilemma he faces. To God this is not a problem. Fear and abnormal fear is not beyond God’s ability to resolve.

 

Normal Fear

 

The usual question concerning fear and believers is: Why would God give us the emotion of fear if it could be detrimental to us? The answer can be found in another question: “If at this moment you were surprised by an assailant with a knife in his hand, would you want the benefits of fear? The benefits are listed below:

 

Apprehension

To proceed with caution

Breathing increased

To deliver more oxygen to the body

Energy

To provide the fuel to take immediate action

Heart rate increased

To fuel your muscles with blood

Hyperalterness

To increase awareness of danger

Mind racing

To provide options to consider

Muscles contracting

To prepare for the “fight or flight” reaction

Perspiration increased

To cool the body down and prevent overheating

Pupils dilated

To increase vision, especially at night.

Senses heightened

For the purpose of dealing with the feared object.

Sleep lessened

To provide more “awake” time.

Talking increased

To aid in communication about the problem.

 

Abnormal Fear

 

The level of fear is way out of proportion to the actual situation. In fact, the fear may be totally unrelated to the situation. This kind of fear can result in a panic attack. The person with this kind of fear can identify with this anguished cry…

 

Psalm 55:4-7 (KJV)
(4) My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me. (5) Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me. (6) And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. (7) Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah.”

People with abnormal fear are not as afraid of the object of their fear as they are of the symptoms of their fear. [Phobia Center of the Southwest, “Agoraphobia,” 1990, n.d.] This is great fear. An individual experiences a panic attack when 4 or more of the following symptoms occur and reach a pick within 10 minutes or less. The body cannot sustain the “fight or flight” for longer than that time.

 

Please Note: This is an abbreviated list of symptoms.

 

Chest pain or discomfort.

Feeling like you are having a heart attack.

Chills or hot flashes.

Feeling like you must get to the hospital.

Choking sensation, difficulty swallowing (feeling like your throat is closing in on you.

Cold hands, tingling sensation.

Feeling like you are going numb.

Detached sensation.

Feeling like you are losing touch with reality or yourself

Dizziness, lightheaded.

Feeling like you are going to faint.

Fear of losing control

Feeling like you are going crazy.

Hyperventilating, shortness of breath.

Feeling like you are smothering.

Trembling or shaking.

Feeling like you are doomed.

 

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