The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself
Franklin Roosevelt spoke those famous words during his inaugural address in 1933. Going back even further, in April of 1816, Thomas Jefferson stated in a letter to John Adams, “There are indeed... gloomy & hypochondriac minds... disgusted with the present, & despairing of the future; always counting that the worst will happen, because it may happen. To these I say how much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened!”
Fear steals our present happiness. For the most part, very few of those disasters we obsess about, happen. Those that did, we obviously survived. But if we don’t, our Christian faith says we will enter Paradise. Yet knowing that, I still cling to the things of this earth as if there were nothing more. I succumb to wringing my hands and sleepless nights.
An offhand comment during a recent conversation with my dad ignited another bout of anxiety. Evidently the state that pays my husband’s retirement is facing a financial disaster. I know from experience my dad has a history of seeing the worst. Is he reporting accurately, or is it another case of the sky is falling?
I once told a friend going through a crisis, “Hard times are like staying one night in a bad hotel. They pass, and we move on.” She told me later that thought carried her through a divorce, and cancer. Several years later, a few weeks before her death, she told me Jesus stood at the foot of her bed, and said, “Do not be afraid.”
So, why do we fear?
Scripture tells us to fear only those things that can rob our souls of our chance for eternal life: hate, lack of forgiveness, doubt, and unbelief.
Once again, I pray the Prayer of Saint Francis. I cling to scriptural promises of God’s love and compassion. I strive to do my best, an hour at a time if need be, to make the world a better place where I am right now, not in some future time.
In return, I won’t live in fear. After all, the troubles for today are enough, and God has them, and me, in his hands.