Friday the Thirteenth

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Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the destruction of wicked people when it comes. Proverbs 3:25

Friday the 13th did not even have a completed ...
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No it is not the nightmare on Elm Street but it is Friday the thirteenth again. It has risen again just like Jason Voorhees in the latest remake of the horror film by the same name.

Although long and difficult to pronounce Paraskevidekatriaphobia, whether you can spell it or not still means the same thing, "The fear of Friday the thirteenth." There is something about Friday the thirteenth. Call it childhood superstitions, or an irrational fear, but none-the-less there are those who for one reason or another tread lightly around the thirteenth day of the month when it happens to fall on a Friday. This year we have been blessed with not one but three such occurrences of this fear inducing day. The first was February and then again this month and hold on to your black cats because November will bring the trifecta.

Some people are so paralyzed with fear of Friday the thirteenth they simply won’t get out of bed. Others will steadfastly refuse to fly on an airplane, buy a house, or act on a hot stock tip. "It’s been estimated that [U.S] $800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day because people will not fly or do business they would normally do," said Donald Dossey, founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina. Dossey’s organization estimates the phobia afflicts 17-21 million people in the United States alone.

This fear of “13” is strong in today’s world. According to Dossey, more than 80 percent of high-rises lack a thirteenth floor. Many airports skip the thirteenth gate. Hospitals and hotels regularly have no room number 13.

Many triskaidekaphobes, as those who fear the unlucky integer are known, point to the ill-fated mission to the moon, Apollo 13.

As for Friday, it is well known among Christians as the day Jesus was crucified. Some biblical scholars believe Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit on Friday. Perhaps most significant, is a belief that Abel was slain by Cain on Friday the thirteenth. And then of course was the fateful thirteenth guest for dinner when Jesus was betrayed during the Last Supper. Jesus even went on to call Judas the son of perdition. Rightly or wrongly the number 13 when combined with Friday is viewed as unlucky to many people.

Triskaidekaphobia can afflict anyone, even Presidents and Emperors, President Franklin D. Roosevelt would not travel on the thirteenth day of any month and would never host 13 guests at a meal. Napoleon and President Herbert Hoover were also triskaidekaphobic, with an abnormal fear of the number 13.

Mark Twain once was the thirteenth guest at a dinner party. A friend warned him not to go. "It was bad luck," Twain later told the friend. "They only had food for 12." Superstitious diners in Paris can hire a quatorzieme, or professional 14th guest to avoid the dreaded ’Last Supper’ scenario.

Jason Voorhees
Image via Wikipedia

To the visitors of Camp Crystal Lake, Friday the thirteenth meant they were surely going to have an encounter with Jason Voorhees, the fictional machete wielding serial killer now in its 12th resurrection.

Whatever the reason for the fear, whether it’s a crazed fictional serial killer in a movie or some superstition learned as a child, for those who suffer from Paraskevidekatriaphobia Friday the thirteenth is one day to be avoided.

Although the origin of Paraskevidekatriaphobia may not be readily discernable, for those who suffer from it, it is all too real. Just like the movie franchise capitalized upon the fear of this date, many other superstitions have sprung up associated with the day as well. Beware of black cats crossing your path on this day, do not step on cracks in sidewalks, and do not walk under ladders. Perhaps at one time walking under a ladder led to a paint can falling from the top rung and hitting someone on the head and thusly it is just wise not to walk under a ladder. Perhaps at one time someone stepped on a crack in the sidewalk and twisted their leg, back or worse and therefore it became folk lore to never step on cracks of sidewalks. I do not know what happened to the first person who had a black cat walk across their path but they reported bad luck as a result.

1 After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2 They brought it into the temple of Dagon and placed it beside Dagon. 3 Early the next day the people of Ashdod saw that Dagon had fallen forward on the ground in front of the Lord’s ark. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. 4 But the next morning they saw that Dagon had {again} fallen forward on the ground in front of the Lord’s ark. Dagon’s head and his two hands were cut off {and were lying} on the temple’s threshold. The rest of Dagon’s body was intact. 5 This is why the priests of Dagon and everyone else who comes into Dagon’s temple in Ashdod still don’t step on the temple’s threshold. 1 Sam 5:1-5 (GW)

The problem with fear and superstition is, we apply illogical correlations between cause and effect. If something goes wrong we often look for a cause and if the same thing happens a number of times, we unwisely relate the event with the bad luck.

This is perhaps what happened to the Philistines after capturing the ark of God from the Israelites. They brought it back to their camp and set it up in the temple of their idol god, Dagon. The next morning they found their idol had fallen face down. They reset the idol and went to bed and again the next morning Dagon had not only fallen face down, but it had been decapitated and both hands were amputated and set near the door by the threshold to the temple while the rest of the body remained intact. The Philistines were now filled with fear of stepping onto the threshold of the temple and a superstition was born.

Superstitions and illogical fears can affect anyone for any number of reasons. Usually these fears come about after some traumatic event has affected a person’s life. After witnessing a horror movie, like “Friday the 13”, or some other emotional event, our subconscious minds can create all sorts of fears associated with the event and when something reminds us of the event, the subconscious takes over and a phobia is birthed.

34 And they said to them, The Lord has truly come back to life again, and Simon has seen him. 35 And they gave an account of the things which had taken place on the way, and how, when he gave them bread, they had knowledge of him. 36 And while they were saying these things, he himself was among them, and said to them, Peace be with you! 37 But they were full of fear, being of the opinion that they were seeing a spirit. Luke 24:34-37 (BBE)

The disciples had witnessed the horrific death of Jesus at the hands of the Roman soldiers. They watched him breathe his last breath and witnessed his body being laid in a borrowed tomb. Although Jesus told them he would have to die and he would rise again, it was something they could not get their minds around. The horrors of that Friday were still fresh in their minds when on the road to Emmaus, two of Jesus’ disciples met with the risen Christ ( who they did not recognize at first) who began walking with them and asking them what they were talking about. The two were awestruck because this man did not know what had happened and they began to recite the horror story from the preceding week. They told how Jesus was captured and crucified and died a horrible death. They recited their own version of Friday the thirteenth. They proceeded to tell how three women told some of them that the body was missing and they went to the place where he was buried and found the tomb empty. They did not find the body. A real life horror story was taking shape.

Then Jesus, who was walking with them, told them of all the scriptures that foretold the life, death, and resurrection. When they had reached the town where they were going, the two disciples invited Jesus to dinner and he broke bread with them and then they realized who he was. See (Luke 24:11-31)

Later these two disciples went back to Jerusalem where the 11 and others, were meeting and told them Jesus had truly come back to life. While they were speaking, Jesus appeared in the midst of them and they were afraid because they thought they were seeing a ghost.

It is hard to grasp the unbelievable, even when it is standing right in front of your face. The Philistines had it, the disciples had it, the campers at Crystal Lake had it, and everyone who fears Friday the thirteenth has it, the fear of the unknown. They had all witnessed or heard of the horrors associated with a day, a place, or a person. It stuck in their subconscious minds and came back later bringing fear and trembling along.

The only cure for a mind that keeps replaying a horror movie, is to replace the horrid thoughts with thoughts of good things. We must not dwell on what could happen, nor allow our minds to be overcome with fear, but instead focus our attention on the RISEN SON of God and not the crucified “Lamb of God”. We need to replace the negative images of the slain Jesus with the image of the risen Christ.

After the Emmaus road encounter, and as Jesus stands in the midst of his disciples in Jerusalem, he tells them to have peace and to see his hands and feet and instructs them to touch him to prove that he is really alive. Jesus wanted them to focus on the here and now, the facts of the hour, the reality of His life not the horrors of His previous death.

38 And he said to them, Why are you troubled, and why are your hearts full of doubt? 39 See; my hands and my feet: it is I myself; put your hands on me and make certain; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have. 40 And when he had said this, he let them see his hands and his feet. 41 And because, for joy and wonder, they were still in doubt, he said to them, Have you any food here? 42 And they gave him a bit of cooked fish. 43 And before their eyes he took a meal. Luke 24:38-43 (BBE)

How many Friday the thirteenths have you weathered without an incident? How many spirits have you imagined in your mind that never materialized into anything real? How many ghosts are you still hiding from? How many ghosts from your past are you fearful of? There is a cure.

7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control. 2 Tim 1:7 (AMP)

The story of a resurrected Jason Voorhees can cause nightmares but the story of a risen Christ should give you hope and fill your heart with joy. Jason continually rises from the dead to continue killing on the thirteenth, Christ however rose from the grave only once, and now lives to continually bless and comfort us and give us a peace that passes all understanding.

6 Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. 7 Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable. 9 Practice what you’ve learned and received from me, what you heard and saw me do. Then the God who gives this peace will be with you. Phil 4:6-9 (GW)

To erase the images that cause fear, replace the horror story with a story of hope and praise. Think on those things that bring you joy and not on those which bring about fear and trembling. Give thanks to God for today, do not resurrect the ghosts of the past. Let the dead lie. We do not have to fear Friday again, even if it is the thirteenth, because God is with us.

But those who are waiting for the Lord will have new strength; they will get wings like eagles: running, they will not be tired, and walking, they will have no weariness. Isaiah 40:31 (BBE)

Along for the journey


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