Is Fear Good or Bad?

Fear is an emotion that alerts us to danger.  At its core, it is protective telling us to safeguard in some way. When a fearful state is long term, negative changes result in the body. The emotional center of the brain, the amygdala, can operate independently of our conscious thought. The amygdala can process information quicker than the logic center of our brain (cortex). This is good in that it can sense danger before we see it or are aware of it. This is bad in that without conscious thought the amygdala processes information in less detail and generalizes “Fear=bad=run”. The amygdala can override the cortex and produce reactions that are not based in logic or factual information. Once the amygdala activates a panic response the cortex is less effective in processing information. This means our thinking cannot adapt appropriately to the situation. It is not unusual to see people reacting erratically when faced with a stressful unfamiliar situation. People have committed homicide to “protect’ their family during this recent pandemic outbreak.  Seems illogical to most of us, but is it possible fear was running the show?

Although this is extreme, there are less severe examples of people, uncharacteristically, hoarding food, stealing, abusing loved ones, stockpiling guns and ammunition, and crying uncontrollably etc. Is fear running the show? 

Once the emotional center is in reaction mode how does one return to a calmer state of decision making, especially, if the threat is still present. 

How can one walk THROUGH the valley of death without fearing evil? How can we live fearlessly?

The answer is hope. Hope is a conscious thought and an emotion. It has the potential to stimulate both the emotional and cognitive centers simultaneously. It can trigger positive reactions in the body and equip us to face the dangers ahead, but where does it come from.

Our hope comes from the Lord. If death does not come to those who believe than what is there to fear. Isn’t death, ultimately, what we fear?

Hope defined as the confident expectation of good does not have an element of negativity associated with it. It is the confident, undeniable, expectation, known result, of good. Now if one does not fully understand the love and character of the Lord, hope, as defined above, does not exist. If one is placing hope in vaccines, treatments, government policies, and our own efforts to protect ourselves we have no confidence in a good result, because all these things must work together for the positive outcome. Instead, what occurs is judgement.  We look at family, friends, leaders, and government with a critical eye and question their every move and even measure it against our own thoughts and ideas. This only creates more fear, not hope, because now we see them as “not doing it right”.

Inevitably, if we place our hope in these entities and ourselves working together there will be failure and fear will abound. However, our Lord works all things out for the good of those who love him. That means in the midst of failures from family, friends, leaders, and governments, the Lord works it all together for good. Despite their imperfections, the Lord works it out for good. That is hope. Furthermore, if you know the character of the Lord, you will know and fully understand he does not want anyone to perish. Put your hope in the Lord-He is our salvation in this valley of death through which we walk.