“…Fear no one…do not be afraid…so do not be afraid…”
We get it Jesus! He tells us not to fear 3 times in 7 verses and this is just a small taste of how many times some version of “do not by afraid” appears in scripture.
Why? What are we so afraid of?
The same thing Adam and Eve were afraid of when they ate the apple: that God wouldn’t provide for them and that he was holding out on them.
“Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God’s command. This is what man’s first sin consisted of. All subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in his goodness.” CCC 397
What is the answer? Like most things with God, I have to keep relearning what causes me to be overwhelmed by fear and how to trust him again. While pondering this gospel it hit me: “…you are worth more than many sparrows”.
Unlike the similar verse a few chapters earlier (Are you not much more valuable than they?), this is not a question. It is a firm statement of the truth: you ARE worth more than many sparrows.
Now how in the world do we get ourselves to believe this???
The root of our fear is mistrust in God’s love for us. We have a hard time believing that he sees us as precious and worth caring for, let alone worth dying for.
I thought I was doing pretty good with learning to trust the Lord and not letting fear keep me from abandoning myself to him. Then he asked me to leave the convent. This is something I had been deathly afraid of. Whenever someone left in a state of peace and joy, I couldn’t understand how they could be so happy about leaving.
The moment I got my fears out in the light by talking to my superior, they all magically disappeared. A burden was lifted off my shoulders and freedom like I have never experienced flooded my soul. In that moment I knew what God wanted and I was freed to say yes wholeheartedly.
Now that I am back to dealing with “worldly” matters, my trust is being put to the test. This past week, I was almost panicky with stress over money, finding a job, going to school. I felt out of control. And this is precisely why I am so afraid: I want to be in control and I certainly don’t want to give it to God.
I have to look out for number one, because no one else is going to.
Trust takes time
I think we forget sometimes that God wants a deeply personal relationship with us and that relationships take time. Due to the fall, we have a hard time trusting God, and it takes our whole lives to repair that trust.
Since leaving the convent, I have definitely not been living the life of a nun. It’s so easy to abandon prayer and the spiritual life when I don’t have structure provided for me. One day, I was feeling ashamed and apologizing to God for being so lazy and basically ignoring him. His response blew me away: “it’s okay. This is a relationship and I’ve just done something that makes it hard for you to trust in me. I knew what would happen when I asked you to leave. I knew it would take time for you to trust me again.”
“Perfect love casts out fear.”
I used to think this meant that if I loved God perfectly then I wouldn’t be afraid. But, in the words of St. John: “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us…”
“But how is it possible to live fearlessly? Saint John tells us that perfect love casts our fear. The love that Jesus Christ offers us is so perfect and total that even all the hairs of your head are counted.’ Through our embrace of the overflowing, ‘gracious gift of Jesus Christ,’ we can live unafraid.” – Magnificat
Knowing that God loves me perfectly is what casts out fear.
What keeps you from trusting God? Alternatively, what helps you trust in his goodness? These aren’t rhetorical questions, I really want to hear from you!