Fear; it is an emotion that touches our lives in many ways. Presently, we live in a world where conflict has been raised to a new level involving nuclear arms. Within our own country we fear conflict between races carried out in violence. Fear might even play a role as we encounter road rage. Stories of drivers shooting at others can make us wonder how safe it is to drive. Fear can be crippling.
In our personal lives, we fear if we encounter a disease that may debilitate us. We might fear because of the loss of a job or because of a broken relationship. We fear for the safety of adult children perhaps caught up in the recent storms. We fear for grandchildren growing up in a world where morals seem to be set aside.
There are so many situations that cause fear. What can we do about fears be they realistic or imagined. What does fear do to our spiritual lives? We turn to God in Prayer asking for our fear to be lessened. We might berate ourselves for not trusting in God more. Perhaps a way out is to search more for the activity of God in our lives. God is present in the words of a friend. God is present in the smile of a spouse, child or grandchild. God is present in nature; the sun on leaves, birds at the feeder or even a rabbit in the garden munching on carrot tops.
William A Barry, S.J. in his book God’s Passionate Desire and Our Response quotes Scottish philosopher John Macmurray, “All religion…is concerned to overcome fear. We can distinguish real religion from unreal by contrasting their formulae for dealing with negative motivation. The maxim of illusory religion runs: “Fear not; trust in God and God will see that none of the things you fear will happen to you”; that of real religion, on the contrary, is” Fear not; the things that you are afraid of are quite likely to happen to you, but they are nothing to be afraid of.” (Persons in Relation, p.171)
Why might this be? God walks with us in the darkness and brings us into the light. This is the meaning of the paschal mystery. We die but then we rise and we are transformed in our relationship with a loving God who is always present. We need to let go of trying to control the situation.