Fear is a thing that’s been on my mind. We try so hard to avoid things that we are afraid of. Loss of those we love. Failing those we love. Not achieving sufficiently at work, or academically. Illness. Not making the most of life. Missing chances. Missing boats, trains, planes. Getting stuck in traffic and everyone being cross. Breaking a commandment, being badly organised, not putting the bins out, insuring everything in case it goes wrong. Not to mention the kind of fears I can’t fully comprehend, the kind that just don’t enter my nice safe middle-class Western 21st-century suburban life.
And yet when I meet people that have undergone some of the things I might be afraid of – bereavement, long-term illness, unemployment – so many of them are acting with a courage and fortitude that I can only dream of. Once the worst has happened, people are often amazing. Utterly amazing.
People – humankind – are muddled and inconsistent, but so often brave and kind and strong when they really have to be – so why do we live with so much anxiety and worry?
Wouldn’t it be better to live in a more trusting and confident way, and deal with trouble when it comes?
Some of those people I see acting bravely aren’t Christians, or people with any religious faith at all. Some are. Some of the people who are anxious and living in fear aren’t Christians. Some are. We’ve all had different lives, different experiences, are taking different routes. We are inclined to be afraid of different things and some of us will be able to deal with our fears and some might not. But fear is not a tool God uses for our good, I don’t think. (Though it could be argued otherwise.) I’m more inclined to think confidence is a better tool for His purposes. Of course, it had better be the right kind of confidence.
Confidence in God. No matter my shortcomings, intellectual, emotional, physical or circumstantial, He can deal with it. I might not always like the journey, but He can see the end of the road, while I’m short-sightedly wiping my glasses clean and struggling with this particular hump. He can see over the mountains and round all the corners, all the way to the destination. Confidence is good, and causes hope. Hope for the end of the journey, when all will become clear.
So, as advised by Paul, I’m going with hope in God. If you are hopeful, you aren’t disabled by fear. It might be there, but you get on with things anyway. If you have hope, you will cope better with the hard things. If you have hope, you can be confident. Perhaps not all of the time, but hopefully more and more, the more hopeful you are…
I know you know it, but I’m going to quote it anyway:
…’we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.’