Fear can be a powerful motivator. More often, it is first paralyzing. It can bring laser focus, but sometimes on the wrong thing.
One of the more common phrases in Scripture is “do not be afraid.” It’s usually not hard to imagine why someone would be afraid. But trying to quell that fear can be quite a struggle. We usually can’t just decide to turn the fear off. Rather, we have to figure our how to proceed in spite of the fear. As John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”
This Sunday we will read about the Transfiguration, when Jesus’ appearance was altered before Peter, James and John, and Jesus was seen conferring with Moses and Elijah. When they hear the voice of God saying, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” they fell on their faces, but Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid.” (Click hear to read the passage from Matthew.)
So, how do we learn to do “saddle up” in the face of fear? The story of the Transfiguration actually gives us an important hint. What Jesus actually said to the disciples was “Get up. Do not be afraid.” One important antidote to fear is action. Get up and get going. Action calms the overactive nerves. Action helps to restore our proper focus.
But I think the first and foremost fear antidote that the Scripture offers us is there, but goes unspoken in this text. Remember who is with us! “Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” Is the great and final promise of Jesus at the very end of Matthew’s Gospel.
Though we may feel alone, and fear heightens that sense of isolation, we are never truly alone. Jesus is with us in every situation. I find that nothing calms fear better or faster than being with someone who knows how to face the danger.
What sorts of things make you fearful? How might remembering that Jesus is with us help you face that fear?
This column appeared in the February 19, 2023 edition of St. John’s eNews. Click here to read the complete issue.
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