The antidote to fear
“‘Do not be afraid.’ These were the reassuring words of Jesus to Peter, James and John as they groveled on the ground at the sight of His transfiguration. They were frightened to find themselves on such intimate terms with divinity.
Our Lord’s words had a much wider range, however, than the disciples’ present moment of confusion. Very soon Jesus would die in disgrace, apparently helpless to defend Himself. The apostles (Judas excepted) would survive this test of their faith, but then they themselves would become the victims of persecution. There would be times when every man’s hand would seem to be set against them. In the end they would be faced with the choice of denying Christ or suffering violent death.
It undoubtedly was with all this in mind that Jesus said, ‘Do not be afraid.’ They had seen His glory. They would remember Tabor. They would know that Jesus was with them through all their trials.
‘Do not be afraid.’ It is the constant remembrance of this admonition which will give serenity to our own lives.
Come to Me, all you who labour and are burdened
God loves us. Unceasingly we have His attention, His whole attention, His concerned attention. There is not a thing which happens to us of which God does not take note. Time and again in the Gospels our Lord tries to inspire our confidence in this loving care which He has for us.
‘Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?’ He reminds us. ‘And yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s leave… Therefore do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.’ Then there is the beautiful parable of the lilies of the field whose raiment exceeds in beauty the robes of Solomon, and Jesus’ conclusion: ‘How much more you, O you of little faith!’
From His quiet invitation, ‘Come to Me, all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest,’ to His majestic, ‘Behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world,’ Jesus keeps appealing for our trust.
Situations which test our confidence in God
We might be tempted to think that our Lord has been unduly repetitious in this matter, except for our own experience. Shamefacedly we have to admit that we still forget His assurances, still burn up an untold amount of nervous energy in unprofitable worry.
All of us are faced, and faced frequently, with situations which test our confidence in God. Some of these anxiety-producers are small ones, others are of major proportion. ‘I really should attend that funeral tomorrow, but if I do how shall I get my washing done?’ ‘I have to give a speech at the meeting and I’m frightened to death. What shall I say?’
‘I studied so hard for that exam, and still I flunked it.’ ‘The bills keep piling up. How shall we ever get out of debt?’ ‘If the diagnosis is cancer, how shall I ever bear it? And what will become of my family?’ ‘If I had taken the baby to the doctor sooner, I’m sure she wouldn’t have died.’
Out of all that happens to me God is going to bring good
In these and a million other worries and regrets, there are a few basic facts which we have to keep repeating to ourselves, over and over. God does love me. God does know and God does care what happens to me. Whatever happens to me (my own sins excepted) is God’s permissive will, is part of God’s plan for me and for those who depend on me. Even my mistakes, my well-intentioned mistakes, are a part of His plan.
Out of all that happens to me God is going to bring good; otherwise He would not let it happen. God knows my weaknesses and makes generous allowance for them. All that He asks is that I do my best, however inadequate that best may sometimes seem. When I have done my best, whether the result is success or failure, I can leave it to God to work it into His plan for me. Finally, I can never, never lose when I choose to do God’s will as I see it, no matter what human wisdom may dictate to the contrary.
Inner strength and tranquillity
We must be realistic. Trust in God will not stifle sorrow. It will not eliminate disappointment. It will not still all apprehension. Our emotions are not easily controlled. But trust in God will give us an inner strength and a fundamental tranquillity. Trust in God will keep us from defeatism and despair.”
– Fr Leo J. Trese, 1966