President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his first inaugural address in 1933 uttered these famous words: “The only thing we need to fear is fear itself.” The United States was in the midst of the Great Depression. Over 25% of the nation was unemployed. Many people had lost their life savings and a large number had lost a fortune. Banks and other financial institutions long considered secure had collapsed and went into insolvency. People killed themselves. Families were torn apart and a nation was full of fear and uncertainty. FDR had the task of turning the nation around and restoring stability and prosperity but he understood that the great fear which had settled on the country was making things worse. Roosevelt knew bold and untried strategies were needed but the willingness of a nation and its leaders to follow was being strangled by fear. FDR was saying the fear that is felt is not rational but breeds greater and paralyzing fear. In essence - “Fear not; trust me and my New Deal,” a sweeping set of public programs and social reforms. Whether or not people trusted Roosevelt, this was great oratory. History and politics aside, mankind has struggled with fear from the start. As nicely presented by Pastor Ed this past weekend, Jesus goes directly to the heart of the matter and brings us face to face with our fears.
The four stories recited in Mark Chapter 5 are connected in many ways but the glaring point brought forth by Pastor Ed is phobos or fear. Interestingly so much of our human condition is captured in these four vignettes. We see fear multiple ways; of losing a dear family member; of our true self being uncovered; health fears; of change in life circumstances; of economic loss; of losing one’s own life; fear of the unknown; fear of control; and most importantly fear of Jesus. Fear is universal and everyone of us comes face to face with our own phobos at many points in our lives. Right now I am fearful of changes in family, of losing a dear one, and of uncertainty for the future. What fears are driving your life?
Most times when I have felt the oppression of “fear” it boils down to lack of control. I want to control everything and have life go just right. But as I have stated in past blog posts, there is little in life that I can control and the possibility of the bad “stuff” frightens me. What I have learned from numerous times of fear over the years is to reset my focus on Jesus and to trust that He is in control. Jairus had to trust Jesus for the life of his daughter. The disciples had to trust Jesus with their lives as the storm crashed into their boat. The woman had to trust that not only would Jesus heal her affliction but embrace her in loving-kindness. I have heard Jesus’ voice in my head asking if I would trust Him. And each time that I said yes and acted like I meant yes, His peace that surpasses all understanding covered me like a soft and warm blanket on a cold winter’s night.
Having faith is only as good as the object or focus of your faith. Faith in a New Deal is pointless unless it can be delivered. Pastor Ed relates the antidote to fear is not courage but trust – trust in the One who is worthy. Have fear? Who do you trust? If it is you, think again. Jesus says behold I stand at the door and knock. Whoever opens the door I will come in and dine with him. His meal is comfort food at its best.