A Power Greater Than Fear

"Even all the hairs on your head are counted, so do not be afraid" (Matt 10:31).

Fear anticipates the worst. Its power is tp seize our imaginations and undermine our determination. Happy is the person who has a purpose that is larger than their own survival. Nothing will stop that person from going forward against any imagined threat. 

Joseph Conrad, in his novella Typhoon, captures this sense of purpose in a captain who guides his ship through a typhoon in the South China Sea. He accepts responsibility for the ship, its crew and human cargo. He knows from experience that if he tries to skirt the oncoming whirlwind and waves he will expose the ship broadside to the full force of the storm, causing it to capsize. There is no way to escape the crisis except by meeting it head on, so he steers the ship directly into the typhoon. His decision to go forward into the storm rather than around it saves everyone. 

Jesus realizes that his mission means going to Jerusalem where is most certain to die like all the prophets before him. Jeremiah reached the same conclusion when he preached God's word against the false prophets. Despite constant sorrow and challenge, Jeremiah remained faithful, and his writings tell of the exile and return of the nation, through a time of great desolation to a time of consolation and renewal. 

Jesus tells his disciples not to be afraid because God will never abandon them. If they keep their "eyes on the prize," no force or fear can stop them from completing God's will. While the Gospels record how fear did in fact paralyze the disciples, causing many to doubt and lose heart, the ultimate triumph of the mission was assured. They came through the storm. 

It can seem a simple spirituality to always go forward. But what else are we to do in time of crisis except take the next step? Courage is revealed not in some heroic leap but doing what needs to be done next. Small steps make up the journey, and each one becomes possible when we solve its specific challenge or problem. Not the whole crisis, but just the part it confronting us in that moment.

Courage grows when we see that we can manage one issue at a time. Fear paralyzes those who let every possible threat, seen and unseen, grow and combine to convince them that there is nothing they can do. If God has counted the very hairs on our heads and watches over the sparrows, will God not care for us in every circumstance? 

Go forward. Go through the crisis, and you will know that God's power never abandons you.