It is easy in this time of heightened anxiety to succumb to fears for our safety, our lives, fears of people different from us. Since the Paris and the San Bernardino attacks late last year, we don’t know what might occur next and whether it might happen to us. These words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt keep echoing in my mind: “All we have to fear is fear itself.” In other words, the worse thing in the face of fear we can do is to be fearful of the future.
Fear is paralyzing. It stops any creative responses. It can only imagine the worst happening to me, to my family, to my nation. It narrows our perspective on any event in our lives to focus on any threats. So gun sales go up. People hunker down in their lives focusing only on the negative possibilities. Enemies are imagined where there is no threat.
“Yea, though I walk through the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23 is only one of many reminders in the Bible that with God on our side and in our minds and hearts, we defeat the effects of fear. That we can be at peace even in a very rocky, anxiety-filled time.
For peace to live in our hearts we need to focus on what is really important: love. We need to lose our attachment to the way things “ought to be.” We need to exercise our ability to be flexible and adaptable and not just hunker down until the bad times come. We need to set our eyes on God and let him take care of us should the worst happen. For he will always take care of us.
In our mad dash to embrace today’s rampant fear we need to remember that we never do have any idea of what will happen next in our lives. We try to live as if we can control what happens to us, but we are always getting curve balls: an unexpected illness, changes at work which affect our jobs, changes in our loved ones, an automobile accident, or natural disasters. There are always the totally unexpected challenges which shock and even stun us, but then, with out built-in resilience, we pick up the pieces of our lives with all that we have in us to cope.
We are geared for life, no matter what. We rise to every occasion, sometimes more easily than others. We learn what we can from the sufferings we endure. And often what we learn is what is truly important—the relationships with the people we love. Life itself. And God’s presence in our lives, his support and sustenance– God, who would be with us in every circumstance. Perhaps he is easier to find when we are desperate, but we do seek him out in the tragedies of life more often than in the good times.
God who can handle us in pain and suffering with support and love and compassion. God who sustains us during the dark days. God whose love for us is indiscriminate and unending, whose forgiveness of us is unbounded, who picks us up when we are down. He is always there for us.
This is the truth we can base our lives on: God is always there for us. And because of that truth, we can live our lives trusting him that no matter what happens he is there with us, sick or healthy, poor or rich, in fear or faith.
If we don’t engage emotionally in our fearful thoughts, we have a chance to see what is true, what is real and how we can live in the present circumstances. Just because we think fearful thoughts doesn’t mean that they are true. Or just because we feel something also doesn’t make that true either.
2016 could be a year of digging deep within ourselves to connect to our love of God, the love that drives out all fear, and to the Indwelling Spirit of God. If we dig deep within ourselves, we can hold onto the Biblical truths, the trust we have in the Lord, the very ground of our being which is the Lord himself.
So much in the international landscape, particularly in the Middle East, but also in our own internal politics in an election year, is playing on our fears in order to get us to vote for the strong, autocratic candidates who will “crush” the enemy or build high walls to keep all the terror out. If there is one thing that I’ve learned in my long stay on this planet is that what we fear rarely happens, it’s the unexpected that comes along and blindsides us. And we can’t prepare for what we don’t yet know.
In this time of uncertainty and threat it is more important than ever that we remember the teachings about fear and faith. So affirm with me, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” This is the truth of the times we live in, as it is the truth for all time. Let us not forget the truth at this time.
Questions to ponder over the week: If I draw up a scale for fear and faith, say at one end of the continuum a 10 for fear, in the middle a 0, and at the other end a 10 for faith, where would I place myself on that continuum? Will I choose to drop deep within me to find faith in God when the world is only offering fear? Will I stand with the Lord for helping others? For being love in this world? For total faith in his providence?
Blessing for this week: May we be the people of God whose faith in the Lord is unbounded. May we reject the world’s offering of fear. May we be love and peace and joy and patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.
My book, “Thy Kingdom Come!” is up on Amazon. Check it out under my full name, Patricia Said Adams or Patricia Adams, if you’re interested. If you’ve already read it, I would love for you to post a rating or comment on Amazon or Good Reads–the ratings bring in readers.
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