“It’s agonizing. Any gathering of people frightens me. In a traffic jam I feel like jumping out of the car and running away. I force myself to go to church and sit there with a feeling of suspense. Nothing ever happens. Even a few customers lined up to buy something in my place of business frighten me. I feel trapped.”
The gentleman speaking was a college graduate and successful in business. He went on, “It started when we moved to an apartment. The people below us and beside us were noisy. We could hear their radios. They dropped things. Often another car was in my parking space. Finally, I insisted on moving to my own home. My wife wasn’t bothered at all by these things. She resisted the move, so now there is a wall building between us.”
He continued, “I used to enjoy people. Now I even feel anxious about going shopping.”
It is a helpless feeling for a successful businessman to be tormented by vague fears that seemingly have no origin. Jack turned to the Bible to see if there was some help for him. He found a verse that threw some light on the problem: “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” (1 John 4:18).
Jack’s problem was not vague, after all. His reactions to his neighbors, to his wife, to the man in person who took his parking space were hostile. He was an irritable man. Even though he was well educated and successful, his heart was not filled with love, and as a result, he did not want to be around other people. In his effort to ignore this truth, he became anxious and convinced himself that his anxiety was caused by being in crowds. Then he became fearful of being in the presence of any people. The more he thought about this, the more fearful he became.
Jack had always thought of himself as a friendly, congenial person, but as he continued to study God’s Word, he realized that he was, indeed, an irritable person. Repentantly, he asked the Lord to forgive him and to change his heart. He began to realize that there was nothing to fear in the midst of people. The grace of God and His love took away the fear of saying or doing something that would embarrass him because of his irritations. Jack allowed himself to face his own sin in order to experience God’s healing.
The names and certain details in this story have been changed to protect each person’s identity and privacy.