Have you had the experience of awakening from a dream, paralyzed with fear, unable to speak or perhaps even move? Most people have. Some tell us such dreams can be the result of stress or worry over circumstances in our lives. Knowing that may assist us in understanding our overreaction, but I am not sure it helps alleviate the effects of fear.
Let's face it; life can throw us its share of challenges, difficulties, and struggles that can be frightening and cause us to respond like we do in those terrible dreams. Though we may be able to physically move in real life, we live as though fear has the upper hand. Unable to overcome fear, we are overcome by it. Though we may develop coping mechanisms over time, or learn to hide the interior reactions caused by fear, inside, it can paralyze us and impede us from living our lives to the full.
Most fear is rooted in a lack of trust in God's love. We fear that we will lose our health. We fear that we will not have enough money. We fear that we will fail at a job or career or on an exam. We fear that we will not be accepted. Then, as some grow older and have children, we fear the same things for each one of them. Perhaps we are no longer as crippled by our fears as we were when we were young, but they still lurk in the background, robbing our freedom and preventing our human flourishing. They harm our relationships and can impede our growth. All of our fears find a common root in the fear of death which can lead to the living slavery spoken of in the Letter to the Hebrews with which I began this piece.
The "Good News" (that is what the word "Gospel" means) is that fear is useless! It has no value. Fear need no longer have any power over us if we choose to really trust in the Lord. All human fears can be overcome. They can be dispelled in the light of a vibrant and growing faith. The fear over ill health does little to change it. We are called to live as stewards of the wonderful gift entrusted to us in our whole person, body, soul and spirit. However, the reality is that sickness and age will affect every one of us. The difference is how we choose to respond. Some of the happiest people I have ever known are those who, in the midst of sickness or declining health, have trusted the Lord. They walk in a deep and abiding relationship with Him and receive the grace to join their suffering with His, becoming transformed in the process.
(Fear is Useless, Deacon Keith Fournier)