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Challenging Fear

MY daughter and I were interested one evening as we watched our cat become frozen with fear after coming face to face with my daughter's new slippers. The slippers are shaped like large, brown, fuzzy, bear feet with beige- colored fabric "claws sticking out the front. When the cat caught her first glimpse of those slippers, she looked quite terrified. She crouched, motionless, staring fixedly at the slippers. When my daughter happened to move one slipper-clad foot, the slipper apparently looked even more

menacing, and the cat jumped into the air in alarm.

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While it was momentarily funny to see our cat behave in such a way when she wasn't actually in any danger, it is certainly not amusing when we ourselves are afraid. The world can be a dangerous place, judging by news reports recounting disasters, accidents, disease, wars, and crime.

Although fear may seem to be an unavoidable part of life, in reality, it is not the legitimate force or presence in our lives that it claims. The Bible is full of reassurances that we need not be overcome by fear because turning to God gives the guidance to overcome evil. In Psalms we read: "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? In this and many other passages, the Bible assures us we need not be overwhelmed by fear becau se we are in the presence and care of God.

The Gospels record several occasions where Christ Jesus urged "Be not afraid or "Fear not. It seems clear that Jesus understood the importance of overcoming fear, and he certainly overcame it in his experience. His pure understanding of God's ever-presence enabled him to challenge and overcome fear and to heal disease.

Fear would tend to fixate our attention on the problem and block out what God is saying to us. Fear fosters belief in the reality of evil--belief in a power apart from God--that would have us believe that frightful circumstances are inevitable.

An understanding of God as ever present and all good destroys fear. Man--our genuine identity--is made in the image and likeness of God, Spirit. This spiritual image and likeness is forever inseparable from God, who gives only good to His creation. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, "God is everywhere, and nothing apart from Him is present or has power.

One night when my daughter was young, I was awakened by the sound of moaning. It was obvious that she felt unwell, and I immediately became anxious. Because fear at first made it difficult for me to pray effectively or even think very clearly, I began to read passages from the Bible and from Science and Health in an effort to counteract my fear. Among the passages I read was this statement from Science and Health: "When fear disappears, the foundation of disease is gone. It was suddenly clear to me that fear was not unchallengable because God's power was actually present. I could see that once fear was faced and destroyed, we could begin to sense God's governing presence. With this realization, calm returned. The whole family--including my daughter--slept peacefully the rest of the night. In the morning my daughter woke completely well.

This was a powerful example to me of the importance of challenging fear, instead of being dominated by it. We can begin to master fear through an increased understanding of the ever- presence of God, good, and His unceasing care for His children.

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