Let Go of Fear!
How often do we allow fear to control us? Too often we don’t even realize how fear influences our actions, our emotions, and even our worldview. Fear often paralyzes us.
In our personal lives, we may have memories that leave scars of fear, and when unattended, this fear pops up its ugly head. Or when we face uncertain challenges and unexpected difficulties in our lives, we become afraid. Fear is always lurking around the corner.
The world also gives us many reasons to be afraid. We watch the daily news and see all the frightening things happening in the world. The internet, and the media often sensationalize and magnify fearful events so that we think the world is coming to an end. We can find countless reasons to be afraid - from climate change to possible wars, from terrorism to mass shootings, from little mosquitoes and the EEE virus to cancer and other life-threatening illnesses, from addictions and the opioid crisis to mental illness, from radical and sudden changes in society to our inability to control certain realities in our lives.
Fear is all around us. And more often than not, forces in society play off our fears. Our politicians instill fear of what will happen if their opponents gain power. Marketing specialists cultivate fear in us so that we buy the latest of whatever they offer in order to make our lives safer and better. Fear is around every corner.
Yet, as followers of Jesus Christ, we need to ask ourselves if we should ever allow fear to control us? Do we truly have something to be afraid of if we remember and truly believe that God is always with us?!?
St John the Theologian stated, “Perfect love casts out fear” (Jn 4:18) When we abide in the divine love of God, we will find eternal security, and thus never need to fear anything. Do we truly believe that such perfect love can cast out all fear?
Concerning this all-conquering love of God, the Apostle Paul reminded the Christians in Rome, “Who [or what] will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39)
The deepest, greatest fear of all people is death itself. And here, society tries, in countless ways, to reject, ignore, or deny this great mystery of death. Yet Christ came precisely to address this fear and dilemma of humanity. He not only voluntarily experienced death, but overcame it. He conquered death, and in the process, offered hope to all humanity. Death no longer has the final say!
Yet, do we live with this Paschal spirit of victory over death? Do we truly carry with us, on a daily basis, the faith and hope that Jesus is greater than our deepest fear, death itself?
Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the One who is and was and who is to come, the Lord Almighty” (Rev 1:8, 22:13). If everything begins and ends in God, if He truly IS and WAS and IS TO COME, the Lord Almighty, then we can believe that all things are under His control. Life is an awesome mystery and we surely can’t understand why things happen. Yet in the midst of this fearful mystery of life, we are assured that God is present, He is in control, and He will have the final word!
So we can live our lives without any fear. We realize and believe that He is always with us, and if we are with Him, there is nothing to be afraid of. IF WE ARE WITH HIM! Here lies our challenge.
The fears of life try to make us forget about God. The deceptive voice of the devil tries to create a false reality where we sideline God, where we focus on the problem or issue creating fear, instead of keeping our eyes solely on Christ Himself.
Remember when the disciples were in the midst of a storm on the Sea of Galilee, and Jesus came to them walking on the water. They were afraid. Yet Jesus called Peter to come towards Him. As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, even he himself walked on the water. Yet the moment he turned his attention to the storm and the waves dashing against him, he lost faith and allowed fear to reign.
Our Lord never promised any of His followers that when we follow Him, we will have no problems and or challenges that will tempt us with fear. Jesus actually warned His followers quite the opposite. “If you follow me, you have to take up your Cross.” There is no comfortable way to carry a cross. It is a fearful symbol of suffering and death. Christ warned us of this cross.
He also warned that for those who follow Him, they will be misunderstood by friends and even family members, they will be ridiculed, they will be slandered, they will be rejected, and even some will be put to death. Again, a fearful warning.
St.Paul even cautioned his beloved disciple Timothy, “Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12).
That sounds scary. And yet, despite all these fearful warnings Christ also comforted, “Do not let your hearts be troubled… Peace I leave with you…in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” (John 14:1,27,16:33)
Remember, despite all the concerns of the world around us, all the challenges we face personally in our lives, and all the fears and uncertainties that try to overwhelm us, we have an anchor, an unshakeable foundation, a steady presence and security that will never abandon us!
I often remind people that the safest place to be is in the will of God. If we strive to walk with Him daily, if we invite Christ into our lives each and every day, if we truly commune with Him every moment, not only in the Holy Sacraments of the Church but even in our daily interactions with people, if we strive to live in the will of God and seek first His kingdom, then we are in the safest place of life. Nothing should frighten us! Nothing can make us afraid! We know that God is with us and we are choosing to be with God!
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the
mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging… The Lord Almighty is with us. The God of Jacob is our fortress.” (Psalm 46:1-3,7)
With much love and hope in Christ Jesus,
Sunday of the 7th Ecumenical Council; Carpus, Papylus, Agathodorus, & Agathonica, the Martyrs of Pergamus; Benjamin the Deacon; Chryssi the New Martyr of Greece; Florentios the Martyr of Thessaloniki; Meletios of Pegas, Patriarch of Alexandria
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