“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” FDR
These words spoken by President Roosevelt came at the deepest darkest point of the Great Depression. Perhaps, however, as we see ourselves in a similar economic situation today, these words need to be resurrected, and the connection between faith and trust restored.
Like the raging forest fires of recent days, fear is a destructive force that travels at will, and destroys everything in its path.
Which of these fires of fear are in your heart?
- I fear losing attendance and budget, so my church has become irrelevant.
- I fear Democrats/Republicans, so I fear anything the government does.
- I fear strangers, so I scapegoat my fears upon their shoulders.
- I fear my neighbors, so I suffer from isolation.
- I fear homosexuals, so I create special categories to label and isolate them (within and outside the church.)
- I fear for my safety, so I spend hundreds and thousands of dollars a year on security.
- I fear the President of the United States, because he’s a Democrat, progressive, black.
- I fear an imminent terrorist attack, so I live with constant anxiety, worry, and stress.
In the midst of all this fear, we must remember the words of Jesus from the Gospel of Mark, “Why are you SO AFRAID? Do you still have NO FAITH?” (Mark 4:40 NIV, emphasis added) Is our faith so strained, so shaken, so decayed that fear is the primary emotion driving our lives? It’s time to face our fears, to strengthen our faith, to trust in God’s love, and to fight the flames of fear with the greatest of all fear retardants, unconditional love (Grace).
Like the fires that are still burning today in the mountains above Los Angeles, it is easier to start fear than to extinguish it. But we must show at least as much dedication as the brave firefighters and smoke jumpers, in our untiring efforts to fight fear on all fronts, to build a containment line of love and faith around them, and stop their unquenchable rage of destruction.