We have been receiving a lot of emails from listeners and viewers who are troubled by the outcome of our recent presidential election. Concern covers the gamet from outrage to fear — outrage at what this election means from a pro-life standpoint, and fear that the principles of President-elect Obama will lead to policies radically different from the both the Judeo-Christian ethos and the vision of America’s founding fathers.
It is true that the outcome of the election was an abysmal defeat for life. There is no way to caculate the advances toward a culture of death our nation can take in the next four years. And it is also true that the “talk” of the President-elect sounds as radically left as his voting record. But one thing is certain: we, who actively seek to restore a culture of life, must remain steadfast and we must remain firm. And we must continue to safeguard all that is God-honoring in the culture of our day. “Stand fast,” says Sacred Scripture, and fast we must stand.
But what do we about the fear part? How do we quell the growing apprehension and anxiety that underlies the tone of the emails and phone calls we are receiving?
Jesus tells us in Mark 5:36, “Fear is useless. What is needed is trust.”
You recall that Jesus spoke these words to Jarius, the synagogue official, who had come searching for Him. His daughter was critically ill and Jarius hoped that Jesus would heal her. But no sooner had Jarius made his request when another person caught Our Lord’s attention: a woman who had hemorrhaged for a dozen years.
Jesus healed the woman and before He finished speaking to her, people from Jarius’ home arrived to tell him not to bother the Master any longer because his daughter had died. All seemed lost. All seemed futile. All seemed over.
But note what happens: Jesus ignores the report. Scripture says He “disregarded” it. And then Jesus speaks these words, “Fear is useless. What is needed is trust.” You see, Jesus knows what He is about. He knows what He is going to do. He knows that all things are possible with God.
He will take despair and fill it with hope. He will take sorrow and fill it with joy. He will take death and fill it with life.
And so Jesus sojourns to the official’s house, tells the wailers and the cryers to stop making a din. “The child is not dead,” He says. “She is asleep.”
He enters the girl’s room, takes her hand, and says, “Talitha, koum,” which means, “Little girl, get up.” Immediately the twelve year old stands up and begins to walk around astonishing all who were gathered there.
This is a dramatic moment, and it seems to point to a great truth. God sometimes waits to act. Just when all seems lost, when despair looms large on the horizon, God acts in a profound and amazing way.
“Why,” you may ask, “does He wait? Why doesn’t He act right away, especially if He’s going to act anyway?” I think the story from Mark gives us one good answer. God waits to act so that He can prove to us that He is worthy of our trust, and that even our worst moment is imbued with His presence. He does not want us to fear; He wants us to trust.
Morbid fear is a paralyzing fear. It gets us in its grip and holds us fast. It is one of the great ploys of Satan. And he seeks to use it liberally.
Morbid fear incapacitates us. It saps us of our spiritual strength and resolve. It plants doubt in our hearts and takes our eyes off of Jesus Who is our liberator.
Jesus gives us the antidote to morbid fear. It is trust. Trust in Him. Trust is fear’s antidote; it is its remedy.
I know about morbid fear. After my son, Simon, was killed in a vehicular accident, I was fearful that I could lose my daughters as well. A friend, who had also lost a child, spoke to me about my fear and told me that fear is False Evidence Appearing Real.” He encouraged me to trust in God and to know that He was with me.
I was grateful for his counsel and I learned a lot about practicing trust in those early months of my grief. I learned that trust is True Resolve Under Severe Testing. And I learned that it is a spiritual muscle developed by faith in God and His providence especially in those moments of dire need.
True resolve under severe testing — this acronym, and the truth it conveys, may well be what is needed as we move forward into these next four years. Can we do it on our own? Definitely not. But with God — all things are possible. May we hold fast to the truth; may we preach the Word in season and out; and may we remain firm and steadfast in hope.