Where There is Addiction, There is Fear
Fear often contributes to the formation of an addiction, and then seeks to keep us bound in it. Ed Buch shows us how to face our fears and overcome them.
Ed, you previously wrote an article titled, "Why Sex Addicts are so Afraid.” I suspect that nearly anyone can think of many times in their lives where fear has been an issue. I think we can all relate to the idea of fear.
Yeah. Maybe I should say at the outset that I've certainly had a lot of experience with fear over the years. As a child, I was a very fearful individual, especially of the dark, as many children are.
Yeah, me too. I still don't look under the bed!
Right. I still don't walk up to windows at night. A couple of things stood out to me as I looked at the Scriptures and my own experience kind of side-by-side when it comes to fear. One thing is that as a human being, fear paralyzes me. I get stuck, and I think that's true in general of people - we are paralyzed by fear. But on the other hand, Satan our adversary is animated by fear. It is an atmosphere that he thrives in; and I think works very, very hard to incite and keep immersing us in because that's where he can do his work to corrupt and destroy lives so effectively.
Yeah. No doubt about that. Well, hopefully we can encourage people to have hope that they can get free of the fear that the enemy is so often trying to keep us in. One of the classic examples of fear in the Bible involves Peter.
Yeah. One of the probably most well known stories of fear in the Bible is Peter walking on the water. A number of the disciples are in the boat and headed across the lake; and Jesus comes walking on the water toward them and their reaction is fear. He says some reassuring things to them and eventually Peter says 'Well Lord, if it's really you, invite me to come walk on the water to you.' Jesus does that. He says 'Come.' So Peter gets out of the boat - I'm sure many of us have heard the story - and he loses his focus. He makes a decisive error here and takes his eyes off of Jesus. He begins to see the boisterous waves and the storm around him, and starts to sink in the water. Of course, he calls on Jesus. Jesus reaches out his hand to him and says 'Oh you of little faith. Why did you doubt?'
What does that question that Jesus asks reveal to us and about us?
What we see here in this passage with Peter is that fear is literally drowning faith and that is true in so many of our lives. We can get stuck in unbelief. I personally have felt that at times. When I was in my sexual sin in particular - feeling powerless to stop the behaviors that I knew were sinful, as well as powerless to put into practice the steps I could see and read in scripture or other biblical materials - Jesus was inviting me toward that freedom, but I was paralyzed it seemed by the role that fear was playing in my life. And that's because we're dealing with a lot of fears.
I think this is very true of sexual addicts or others dealing with sexual sin - that fear has played a huge role in our lives. Probably many are dealing with something like a fear of intimacy, a fear of emotional pain and rejection, a fear of inadequacy, just feeling insignificant and unable. Those are all things that feed and propel us into those sexual addictions.
I had a check box next to each one of those as I look back on some of the things that drew me into sexual sin. I’ve heard you say that fear not only leads us into sexual sin, but can also hinder us from getting out of it.
Yes, that's what I mean by fear animating Satan. Now he's got us in this trap of fear - I was propelled there by fear and I can't get out because I'm afraid of getting caught or exposed, afraid of losing my reputation, afraid of the consequences that I might have to deal with when my sin is exposed. It's really a horrible trap and a pit. I believe many people out there today might be stuck in that pit, and it is my hope that they will understand that they don't have to stay there.
Can you expound more on that? How can we escape this fear-based prison?
Yeah. The only way to get out of this prison is to face our fears. Proverbs says very clearly that the fear of the wicked will come upon him and that's exactly what happens in many cases, unfortunately. As we let it go too long, the things we fear happen. In my case, my sexual sin got exposed and I was caught; and all those things that I feared came upon me. I think many people experience that, but we can at any point make the choice to face those fears head-on and overcome them. And the Lord would have us do that much sooner than many of us opt to do.
You say that coming to grips with our fears is not complicated. It may not be complicated, but if you're in the grip of fear it very often seems elusive. How do I do that if I find myself driven by fear or controlled by fear?
In my mind, there's kind of a two-pronged approach. We need to replace that fear with faith, and the faith is going to come from the Word of God. There's no way around that. You need to be immersed in the Word of God and letting the Word of God take a higher place in your thinking and in your heart than the fears and the emotions behind those fears. At the same time, you mentioned while it's not complicated, it's not easy either. I don't want to minimize that because I'm not even sure a person can literally do that alone. My experience - and I think the experience of most people I'm familiar with - is it takes a group of believers who can come alongside and help pray you through in that regard, before you can really overcome fear in your life.
You close your article by talking about the woman with the issue of blood, which I think really spoke well to the love of Jesus in the midst of our fear.
I think everyone's probably familiar with that account in scripture. This woman had a twelve year issue of blood. She's bound in her fear and her uncleanness, very much like someone in sexual sin. She gets just enough sight of Jesus in her desperation to reach out and touch the hem of his garment; and gets the healing she needs. But the reality of that story is when she touches him Jesus immediately stops everything. He's on his way to heal somebody else, but he stops.
And he's got quite a crowd around him too.
Exactly. In fact, Peter said that. When Jesus asked 'Who touched me?' Peter's response was 'Master, you're surrounded by this large group of people; it could have been any of us. Why do you even care?' And when we think about that, I think the reason Jesus really did care was because he loved that woman perfectly. In that love, he understood that while she had been healed of her uncleanness, her fear remained. We see when he finally calls her before him, it says specifically 'She came in fear and trembled before him.' But she confessed in that moment everything to him. His response to her was 'Daughter, your faith has made you well.' She overcame all of her fear by the faith that he drew out of her and imparted to her.
He really laid the foundation for hope in her that she did not have before. Even as you're talking about that, I think of the man that was healed by the pool at the Sheep Gate. When he was asked 'Who healed you?', he didn't know who healed him. I've always loved the fact that Jesus arranged a second meeting, so that he could know who healed him. He wanted to heal his heart, of course, and he wanted to give that man the hope that he didn't have just by his healing, as wonderful as that was.
That's right, yeah. I think maybe many of us today would settle for just physical healing, but God is always after something much much deeper.
Yes, and much more wonderful. Amen. Hopefully for those who may be experiencing fear in different ways in their life it will provide some hope to them - that Jesus is not only aware of their fears, but he wants to set them free from the fears and the consequences of them.
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