“It is I; do not be afraid” [Mathew 14: 27]
Jesus used these words in Mathew’s gospel to reassure Peter, who thought he could walk on water and was in fact walking on water, that he need not fear the water because Jesus was there to help him. These words though were not just meant for Peter but also for each of who find ourselves unable to navigate the storms of our own lives.
Fear is an emotion that we all face and uncontrolled fear left untreated can immobilize us and wreck havoc in our lives. It is an emotion most favored by the enemy who is always looking for ways to exploit our vulnerability. Fear in itself is just one of many emotions that we experience and, as always, it is the way we deal with it that is most important. The emotion itself in its basic sense in not unhealthy as it should force us to use caution in relating to the world around us. Fear becomes unhealthy when it interferes with our ability to rationally assess the nature of the stimuli giving rise to the fear so that we become to a greater or lesser degree controlled or negatively influenced by it.
As children, our fears were often addressed by our parents who stepped in to rescue us from a real or imagined situation. One of my own children was paralyzed by fear when he was separated from either my wife or me when in a supermarket or other public place until either of us came back into view. You could see the panic on his face subside.
As adults, the fears we face routinely are for the most part caused by the uncertainties of daily living. It may be financial or health related or relationship related. A serious illness encountered personally or by one we love, the loss of a job, serious difficulties in our important personal relationships, an economy that is sliding into recession that promises to relate negatively to our savings if we are retired, and for many who live in venues where personal security is an issue, exposure to persecution, warfare, hunger and the like.
Wherever we live and whatever our personal circumstance we can pretty much guarantee that some circumstance will occur in our lives that will expose us to “loss”. We may not be able to adequately protect ourselves from the anticipated loss but we can find peace in the midst of what would otherwise be turmoil. In the midst of our fears and uncertainties, we can turn to Jesus who has our interest at heart. Jesus is the Constant because of his love for each of us. We need to remind ourselves that there is a plan for each of us and that nothing that happens to us catches our Savior off guard. In fact, we experience tremendous peace when we remind ourselves that we have Jesus standing behind us. Recognizing this spiritual reality might not soften the loss we face but it reassures us that we can face our fear and deal with it knowing that our Loving Companion walks in tandem with us each step of the way.
I find myself revisiting this truth on a daily basis particularly now as I encounter the uncertainties of further surgery and a life in retirement that is as yet not really defined. For me the paramount fear I often face is recognizing that I am not in control. I’m sure the Lord smiles to hear me make this admission knowing that my spiritual growth requires that I let go and let God take charge. He is constantly reminding me that He is with me and that I need not fear. I hang on to that assurance through faith, using it to abolish the negative fears that might otherwise engulf me and the tactics of the enemy who I am sure is not happy having me share my thoughts on these issues.