An Unlikely Antidote

It  has no boundaries, affects young and mature,
can cripple and maim, but when faced, won’t endure.
Do you know the solution to this riddle? According to Andy Bosworth,1 stretching our minds to solve problems, whether through math, puzzles, or riddles like this one, builds critical thinking and logical reasoning skills--two “must have’s” for all good apologists. Now that you know it’s to your benefit to think a little harder, have you figured it out yet?

What if I added the following hint?
According to a 2019 study, 91% of what we ______ never happens.
Without a doubt, 100% of you know that the missing word is “fear.” Fear--even saying the word can cause you to feel, well, a little fearful. As may be the case with you, I felt this emotion more frequently and intensely once I became a parent. Every time my girls were out of my sight for any length of time or when (in later years) they did not respond to texts or calls, my anxiety and fear levels rose, and I was constantly imagining worst-case scenarios. But did any of them come to pass? No, not even one, honestly. Being reminded of this fact brings me back to a place of rational thought where I acknowledge (and submit to the belief) that my Heavenly Father has it all under control.
In recent weeks, while working on editing, proofreading, and preparing the manuscript of our newest book, I was reminded and blessed by a message which reaffirmed to my frail, human brain that harboring fear is a futile exercise, and it drains the energy needed to live abundantly.
Candace Nordine, in her chapter entitled, “How Can I Fight and Overcome Fear?” addresses both unhealthy and healthy fear, and we should all be familiar with both. Though I’ve only included an excerpt (You need to get a copy of the book to read the full chapter!), I want you to hone in on the key message of how we can fight unhealthy fear--it’s not what you would expect.
Often people think they are alone when it comes to fear. However, fear is something we all experience. It is not selective. No one gets a “pass” from fear in this life. In fact, it’s one of the many tools that Satan uses to hinder our trust in the Almighty God. Fear is the very thing that Adam and Eve felt after they sinned against God in the Garden of Eden. “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid” (Genesis 3:10). Because sin had now been introduced into God’s world, for the first time, fear reared its ugly head, and we have been feeling the effects ever since. So, when you experience fear, know that you are not alone. In fact, it is such a common emotion to mankind that the Bible tells us over 350 times to “fear not.”
Sometimes we simply forget to ask for God’s help. We get so caught up in trying to control our own fear that we forget to cry out to God. Make it a practice to pray Scriptures like Isaiah 43:1, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” One of my favorite Psalms in high school was Psalm 27. It promises that God is my light and my salvation, that I can be confident even when my enemies attack me, and that God will hear my voice when I call out to Him. What great promises! Find your own set of Scriptures that encourage you to focus on who God is, and cry out to Him. The more we hide God’s Word in our heart, the more it changes our thinking.

Often when we are fearful, we pull away, or we want to hide, shut down, and take no risk. But a loving person will move forward, give, open up, and risk.

Some people think the opposite of fear is courage. However, the Bible tells us in 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” The antidote to fear is love. When you are fearful, it's harder to be loving. Often when we are fearful, we pull away, or we want to hide, shut down, and take no risk. But a loving person will move forward, give, open up, and risk. The more we love, the more our fear level goes down. We must learn to love from the One who created love. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
The thing we truly have to fear is separation from a holy God for all eternity. That is why He sent His Son, Jesus. Jesus took our place on the cross, and He took the punishment for our sin. Because of that sacrifice, we no longer have to fear separation from God. If we put our faith and trust in Him, we have the promise of eternity with Him in Heaven. If you know Jesus, you will never have to fear death or separation from Him.

The thing we truly have to fear is separation from a holy God for all eternity.

It is the love of Christ that casts out all our fears. His pure, unadulterated love compelled Him to make His entrance into this world as a baby in a manger, go to the cross to pay the penalty for our sin, and rise from the dead to conquer sin and death, so that if we believe and accept Him, we have nothing to fear in this life.

So here’s another riddle for you:
It  has no boundaries, affects young and mature,
will strengthen and heal, and when chosen, endures.

The answer to this riddle?
 L-O-V-E--so simple, yet so profound--an unlikely antidote indeed.

2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear,
but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

To read the rest of the chapter about overcoming fear as well as the answers to 27 other questions most asked by teens, we encourage you to order our newest resource, Did Jesus Commit Suicide? And 27 Other Questions Teens Are Asking About the Bible (that adults want to know, too). To access our online store for this and other books, click HERE.
1Andy Bosworth, “7 Benefits of Puzzle Solving for Adults,” (June 22, 2017). 
To have free access to our DeBunked videos and dozens of other Reasons for Hope* resources, download our FREE APP--Reasons for Hope (look for the blue asterisk). Click HERE.
Holly Varnum, Director of Curriculum Development at Reasons for Hope* joined us September 2021 to launch curricular materials to support many of our media resources. With degrees in education, curriculum and instruction, and educational administration, she comes with over three decades of experience in working with teens and adults in camp ministry, teaching and administration, and curriculum writing (A Beka Book, Focus on the Family, and Answers in Genesis to name a few). God has provided her with a well-rounded educational perspective through service in Christian schools, charter schools, public schools, Christian camps, and local church ministry. She has been a classroom teacher, instructional coach, administrator, camp counselor, Sunday School teacher, ladies’ Bible Study teacher, and conference speaker and looks forward to using her passion for God’s truth within the context of RforH*. 

Her hobbies include cooking and baking, hiking, camping, travel, and working on do-it-yourself projects. Holly and her husband, Paul, (RforH*’s new Director of Media Content) also enjoy any time they can spend with their three grown daughters, two sons-in-law, and two grandchildren (so far!). They live in the beautiful state of Maine, and yes, eat lobster (properly pronounced “lobstah”) whenever they get a chance!

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