It is not hard to recognize the reality of fear in our world today. Just watching the stock market on a daily basis attests to the environment of fear in which we live. People are scared that they might lose their jobs, their homes, their retirement, and so on.
The worst thing about fear is the fact that it is self-perpetuating; it has a snowball effect. Once fear gets rolling in an economy, or a community, or in your own mind it is impossible to stop. Before you know it you are overcome and it influences your every decision. Your entire perspective becomes colored with fear. But what is it that makes us afraid? Can fear be boiled down to something? I think so.
Very often the sensation of fear is accompanied by the feeling of being out of control. Actually, it is often the cause of fear. Your kids are out past their curfew, and you don’t know where they are. You have no control over the situation, and you begin to fear. Your investments are shrinking, and there is no bottom in sight. You can’t control the market, and it makes you afraid. Your spouse is very sick in the hospital, and the treatment doesn’t seem to be working. You don’t know how to help him or her, and you fear the worst.
I think we fear because we know we are out of control. Most of the time we spend our days and nights creating and maintaining our illusion of control over our lives, but there is always some reminder every day that it is simply an illusion. As a result, there is always a creeping fear in the back of our minds. We are afraid to actually admit that we are not ultimately calling the shots.
So often we hear people telling us, “Don’t worry. It’ll be okay.” I don’t know about you, but my response is usually, “How do you know? Aren’t you in the same boat as me?” I know it is well-intended, but it never seems to help. The only way that it will be okay is if there is someone somewhere who actually does know what’s going on, someone that is not surprised by life’s curve-balls, and, most importantly, someone who is trustworthy.
Whenever I hear the typical Christian response that “God is in control.” I tend to get a little more worried. Unfortunately, my mind always goes to Old Testament examples of God’s power that seem very scary, and frankly they don’t often encourage me. It is only when someone reminds me about Jesus that I begin to calm down. He is the one that shows me who God is. He is the one that proved trustworthy and faithful on the cross for us. He is the one that proved God is love, and that His desire is for mercy. Jesus is the one who can come into our cycle of fear, our extremely uncomfortable relationship with our own lack of control, and speak a word of comfort. When he says, “Do not be afraid.” We know it is not mere lip-service to our despair because of what he did for us on the cross. It stands across time as the answer to our fear of being lost, left alone, and dead. His perfect love casts out all fear.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27