Sometimes people can develop very serious mental conditions where they may develop a phobia or extreme fear of a certain thing or person. For example, Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder, often precipitated by the fear of having a panic attack in a setting from which there is no easy means of escape.
Anthropophobia is a pathological fear of people or human company. And yes, there is even a fear of God: Theophobia, which is a fear of Gods, Goddesses, or deities.
Here is a question concerning Theopobia:
What happens to someone who loves Jesus but has the most horrific almost traumatizing fear of God to the point when they go into a church or even the mere thought at times causes severe anxiety and panic at the thought of God and unhealthy tremble and feel sick to there stomach , yet at the same time is a believer and does love Jesus. Will God understand?
How to Deal with Theophobia with Panic/Anxiety of God and Jesus Christ
Hello Wendy, and thank you so very much for your question. This is a great question, and I am glad you asked. We all have fears. Most of these fears are normal and common. In fact, fear can be a great thing. God has placed a built in “fear” mechanism to ensure we will stay out of harms way.
The reason is because if we didn’t have this fear, we would go up and pet a bear, or handle a poisonous snake or spider. We would then quickly die, because we didn’t have a certain level of fear in our minds alerting us to potential danger of these creatures.
Occasionally we can dwell on a fear so much, that it can get to a level where it is mentally or physically unsafe. We can make the object or person so scary in our minds, that it becomes unrealistic, and it begins to interfere with our life.
When I was a teenager, I myself developed a very irrational fear of tornadoes. This stems from the fact that when I was a younger boy, I would sit and read this encyclopedia I had on tornadoes. It would stress how destructive they are, and it showed some terribly frightening pictures of them. So my imagination went wild, and in my teens I would be terrified of them. In fact, I was sure that I would die in a tornado!
Literally every time it stormed, I would rush to turn on the weather channel. In fact, I would watch the weather channel daily to ensure it was going to be good weather. I still have most of the weather channel anchor’s names memorized (my wife often laughs at this).
When we would get a tornado watch or have a forecast of severe storms, I would be terrified thinking I was going to die. I would literally be shaking during bad storms. I could just visualize a large tornado swirling outside and slowing forming in the clouds, ready to drop down any second and destroy my house.
But as I got older I came to understand how a tornado works. I began to see that while tornadoes are dangerous, you can easily survive one by taking the proper precautions and seeking shelter that is specially made to protect against twisters (such as a saferoom or a storm cellar). Not only that, but most tornadoes are not as deadly as you might think. Many are so weak that they only push over a few trees or tear the roofs off of buildings, and people easily survive. Furthermore, the chances of actually being in a tornado are lower than getting struck by lightning.
So now I have no irrational fear of them. That doesn’t mean that I want to be in a tornado (I certainly don’t). I also take any warnings or watches very seriously. But I no longer let this irrational fear rule my life. I have beaten the fear, and now I have a better understanding and appreciation for tornadoes. I even find them beautiful in their own way.
So we can all have fears, but we can all also overcome these fears.
What is An Appropriate Way to Fear God? Doesn’t the Bible Tell Us to Fear God?
The Bible certainly tells us to fear God, but it is important to understand what the Bible means in that context. Here are some Bible verses that talk about fearing God:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Proverbs 1:7 (NIV)
And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, Deuteronomy 10:12 (NIV)But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Luke 12:5 (NIV)
Does God want us to be scared to death of Him, and shaking every time His name is brought up? Of course not. God doesn’t want you to have that kind of fear at all. God loves you and wants fellowship with you. God loves you so much, that even when you did sin He loved you. He even sent His only-Begotten Son (Jesus Christ), so that through Christ you might be saved.
Instead, what these passages about fearing God are saying is that you need to have a fear of God’s authority if you disobey Him. I fear the police or government. That doesn’t mean I “literally fear them.” In other words, when I see a cop I don’t tremble or have a panic attack.
Instead what that means is, I fear the punishment I may receive if I disobey their laws. But I am certainly not afraid of a police officer if I haven’t done wrong. In fact, I may need a police officer badly if I am ever in need of help. I even feel more comfortable in a dark alley if there is a cop nearby. So cops are your friends as long as you obey the law.
In that same way, the Bible suggest we fear God in that way. Fearing God in the Bible means to believe in Him, keep His commandments, and love Him. It means to have a deep level of reverence and respect for Him. If we don’t do those things, then yes, we can fear the consequences of disobeying God as well (just like we must fear the consequences of disobeying a police officer).
But if you follow God, and love God in your heart, you have no need to fear His judgment. In fact, you should be filled with joy and excitement because you will get to be in the presence of God for the rest of eternity.
This is when you will get your reward, and you will inherit the Kingdom of God. So you will no longer ever have to fear, or be sad, or anything. What a great day this will be! I can’t wait for God’s coming judgment and Kingdom.
How to Overcome Theophobia, and Fear God in a Healthy Way
If you continue to fear God to the point of sickness or other health problems (either physical or psychological), then that is an indicator that you may need some help. I would like to give some suggestions on how I think you can fully overcome this fear:
- Read God’s Word–It is important to study the scriptures, and learn as much about God as you can. This will help you learn in your mind that God only needs to be feared if you disobey Him and do evil. If you are a Believer and follow Christ already, then you have no need to fear. Just hold tight to the scriptures and use them as a tool to ensure you are doing God’s will. Talk to a local pastor or Christian mentor if necessary.
- Join a Community–There are both local churches and online communities that you can participate in. If you have a local church, try to get more involved with them. Over time, you may find that your fear gradually goes away. Also, you can join various forums online to help you communicate and get help from other Christians. This is a great way to not only understand that God isn’t something to be feared, but you can talk to others about your fears and problems. Keep in mind that the scriptures do call us to meet together with other Christians weekly.
- Pray–Try to pray to God as much as possible, and communicate your feelings and your fears. Ask God to help you overcome this struggle and fear, and pray as much as you can.
- Analyze Your Fear–When did this fear start? Why do you feel this way? What sorts of thoughts go through your mind? By analyzing this fear on paper, you may be able to discover that it is based on something that isn’t true. Also, try to start projecting positive and happy feelings and emotions towards God. Visualize in your mind God Almighty, and think of all the positive things you can. This may be a way you can “exercise” mentally to help get this fear under control.
- Get Professional Help–If you are not able to overcome this fear using the above tips, please get professional help. There are a great number of licensed Christian counselors who can help you to overcome your extreme fear of God. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to seek the help of a professional. We all need a hand up sometimes. You should be able to find one in your local phone book or online directory.
God Does Understand Your Problems and Pain
It is important for you to remember that, yes, God does indeed understand our feelings and emotions. God does understand why you feel the things you do.
However, hundreds or thousands of people overcome phobias and fears every single day. I know I have overcame one, and countless others are able to beat their fears and phobias. So I urge you, please do not just “settle” for a phobia. Take it head on and do what you need to battle it and overcome this.
If I told you I had a severe phobia to eating and drinking, you may think that it was silly since there isn’t anything to fear about food or water. In fact, we can’t live without food and water.
In that same way, there is no need to have an irrational fear about God. Mankind cannot live on bread alone, but out of every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).
God is far more important than the air you breathe, the food you eat, and the water you drink. God is the source of life. God loves you, and don’t forget that Wendy.
Conclusion: God Loves You, and You Can Overcome and Endure Any Obstacles with God
Phobias and fears are very real. People sometimes struggle with fears that have become irrational and blown out of proportion. But we all have fears. Fear is a natural emotion we all experience. They are like weeds growing in our lawn. We all have them, but we must keep them under control. As long as we do that, the weeds never become a serious problem.
Sometimes, however, a weed can get out of control, and it begins to grow larger and larger, until it chokes out the other plants. When it does this, you cannot appreciate your lawn any more, for you will have an ugly weed that overshadows all of the nice grass, plants, and flowers.
God is great. He is the most loving, joyful, being that could ever exist. There is nothing greater than God. Even the person you love most in life, you should love God even far more because He gave them to you! You couldn’t even enjoy that person if God didn’t exist.
However, a weed has been able to grow within the framework of your mind, choking out and distorting your view of God. This has given you an irrational fear of God.
Remove the weed mentally, and you can see God for what He really is: Great! So please do everything you can to address this problem. If you can’t overcome this on your own, and the fear persists, please consult a professional (such as a good Christian psychologist) to help so you can overcome this fear.
Thanks again for your question Wendy. I will pray for you. God bless!