Four things that I feared the most: Heights, bridges, rejection, and lack of control - not necessarily in that order.
The first two represent the fear of pain and death which are common fears to many. Lots of people fear heights, but my fear of bridges came from trauma. As a child, in Riverside, Illinois, we had to cross Salt Creek on a suspension bridge on our way to the public swimming pool. The bridge swayed with the wind and some older kids swinging it. Once, I was so panicked, I just sat down halfway across and could not move until someone came and got me. Bridges became an obstacle I had to face.
My third fear, while less physical, also involves pain and death - not physical pain and death but just as devastating. It is the pain of knowing or believing that others do not like us and what they might say or do against us and dying to our own self because of their attitude.
But we also need to know that fear can be a positive. It can protect us - fear of sticking your hand in a boiling pot, fear of crossing a busy street, and fear of displeasing God. Fear can keep you from doing something stupid, but we should not fear things over which we have no control.
Our personal sense of wellbeing is often determined not by what others think of us, but by what we think they think about us. It is determined by what we think that the most significant people in our lives - parents, spouse, boss, pastor, and so forth - think about us.
When we make God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - the most important person in our life, and trust in His love for us, then we can combat all of our fears.
For many, fear is an issue of control - who is in charge? I learned to fly private planes as a young man working for an electronics company that owned a couple of Cessnas. On business trips, an instructor came along and gave us professional instruction. I was never afraid, until my first solo landing - that was scary. As pilot, I was in control of the airplane. On commercial flights, my knuckles turned white from gripping the armrests. When flying Delta, I was not in control.
King David conquered his fear when he trusted in God alone.
In God, whose word I praise - in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? Psalms 56:4 NIV.
Evangelist and theologian John learned from Jesus how to combat fear.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1st John 4:18
The perfection of love is confidence, which is the lack of fear. When we are confident in the love of God we do not fear. Love and fear cannot co-exist. If we are fearful, it is not a problem with God's love; it reflects our lack of trust in His love.
The problem is not whether God loves us, but our ability to receive His love. Life experience may have broken our own wholeness to the degree that we cannot fully receive His love. We do not have to be afraid of someone who loves us. He who loves us most also wants the best for us.
Therefore, we can trust God. If we truly trust Him, fear evaporates.
In His Love,
Psalm 27:1 (NIV) The LORD is my light and my salvation-- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life-- of whom shall I be afraid?