People everywhere are frightened – all the time! If it’s not of one thing it’s another. All of us! And it’s destructive and it makes us small, much smaller than we actually are! The problem is that it becomes habitual – meaning that we became habitualized to it. Desensitized to just how destructive it is. We begin to think that’s it’s normal.
Of what are you most scared? Do you even know?
For some it may be about issues to do with our health: the possible consequence of some hard diagnosis perhaps. For others it’s more nuanced: perhaps a fear of our growing older, fear of death – our mortality. We fear any and all threats to our security – that ‘outsiders’ may invade our homes, our family structures, our social or religious norms. We fear the loss of our identities…
Modern marketing techniques understand this well. It’s what merchants tap into in order to sell us whatever it is they are peddling: their latest anti-wrinkle creams (NEW! They say, use this and you need not be scared of showing your age), …or their life insurance policies (so we need not fear the inevitability of death and leaving our loved ones in the lurch). How about their latest political candidates (who promise that by electing them all our fears for our futures will be taken care of)? We fear somehow being left behind and so we respond to their offers of the latest model of motor car, or computer operating system, or cell phone…
Get people to identify with whatever fear you are highlighting, offer them your product as the way to address that fear – get them to believe you – and you gottem!
But seriously: …with what fears are you currently living? Perhaps it’s the fear of failure of some kind? Or the fear of being rejected by those whom you long to be accepted? We fear the lack of significance – especially after retirement. Of course I’m not suggesting that there aren’t very real dangers out there that we do need to be aware of and address, but, my goodness – that’s not all there is! It doesn’t have to define us!!!
Fear is insidious. We fail as we allow its subtle & pernicious invasion of our lives to effect & affect so much of who & what we believe we actually are.
I came across this piece by author Steven Pressfield who describes one of our greatest fears being: “…to discover that we are more than we think we are. You know, more than our parents/children/teachers think we are. We fear that we actually do possess the talent that our still, small voice tells us. That we actually have the guts, the perseverance, the capacity.
We fear that we truly can steer our ship, plant our flag, reach our Promised Land. We fear all this because, if it’s true, then we become estranged from all we know. It’s as if we pass through a membrane”.
Do you know God actually commands us not to fear, or worry well over 500 times in scripture. Fear not (302) Do not be afraid (33) Be anxious for nothing (1) Do not fear (66) Do not worry (24) I will not fear (3) Whom shall I fear? (1) I will not be afraid (2) Do not be dismayed (99)
…and that’s not even including ‘Be of good courage, be brave, etc.
It is the most repeated command in all of the Bible perhaps because God knows it’s the easiest for us to fail, and the one that MOST incapacitates us![i]
The point of all this is that as people of faith who are responding to the WAY, the TEACHINGS and the PERSON of Christ, we are called to own the fact that we have a God who knows us and understands the destructive effects of fear! …and we are to know this always but ESPECIALLY in dark and difficult times.
This is what our reading from Psalm 27 so clearly affirms:
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
The light by which we see anything radically changes our perspective on whatever it is that we are observing – blocks certain things, highlights others. John’s Gospel speaks of Christ as the light of God: 4 …in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. …9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
I was in the washroom at Safeway a few months ago – the one that’s been renovated on 30th – you know? They have this SERIOUSLY big key… Nothing too discreet! Anyway, I discovered that they use a black light in there – apparently to discourage drug use, it being difficult to find a vein in that black light.
The black light of our fear obscures everything & everyone that we see. Instead of seeing people hurting, our fear causes us to see threats and so instead of responding with love and compassion we respond with hate and self-defense. Other light-distortions include our greed, consumerism: instead of seeing all creation as something sacred and holy to be nurtured and stewarded, we see it distorted into something to be plundered and abused…
By what light do you tend to see your world? With what is your world illuminated?
God’s awesome love in Christ is not something to be worshipped by being placed high on some pedestal or altar so much as the crystal-clear light by which we are to see everything – as God intends us to see! We are to see or even to hear as God intends – to touch, smell, taste, sense… Our fears invade and distort all our perceptions.
By what light are we seeing, with what ears are we hearing, smelling, touching, tasting:
‘O Taste and see (the Psalmist says) that the Lord is good’ (Ps 34:8)
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[i] Aside: One of my favorites is from Isaiah 43:1 “Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.”