We all know many fears that make our lives unfree and burdened: fear of serious illness, threat of people, fear of existence, fears of death and many other fears – including irrational fears. All these fears are confronted with a word of the Lord: “In the world you are afraid, but be confident, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33), and thus the way of overcoming of the fears is also shown.
But we can ask ourselves where it comes from that even convinced Christians, who in principle seek nothing but Christ, can fall into a fear that paralyzes them to give a free and correct answer to the respective situation.
How is it possible that Christians also fall into an inner cramp, in which one looks like banished to an evil that we want to avoid under all circumstances.
Fears are indeed a plague and are explained by the loss of trust in God and from the real threatening circumstances of life. But there is a danger that one will leave oneself to the own dynamic of fears and give them, so to speak, domination over oneself. If one does not counteract them, then they become even greater and exercise a kind of “reign of terror”. The fear of the evil that we expect is so great that the evil builds up like a kind of idol and seizes everything.
Take, for example, the fear of serious illnesses. In front of our eyes and in our emotional sphere, the danger of such a situation is so great that we cannot confront this situation with the Lord, but can be completely taken over by fear. Thus we do not receive from the Lord the strength to carry such a disease in Him – if it comes unavoidably.
Even stronger is the fear of death, which our Lord also suffered in Gethsemane. It can take us in such a way that we have nothing more in mind but to avoid or delay death in all circumstances.
Of course, the fear of death is a powerful challenge and the objective in death is very threatening. But as Christians, we must learn to deal with it, even death is an enemy – the last enemy, as the Apocalypse says – but we have overcome the fear by the redemption and resurrection of our Lord. Saint Paul says:”Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?”(1Cor 15:55)
Surely it is right to do everything to stay alive, because life is a great good. But in the face of a disease that can lead to death, it is important for Christians to advance to death and to move away from the cramping on life. For the believer there is not the “great nothing” waiting, but the loving Father who calls us home into his kingdom.
The antithesis of the lack of freedom of the exaggerated fear is trust in God. All aspects of life must be associated with God, especially, of course, the fears. Here we should follow Jesus.
When Jesus came into the hour of suffering we know that he asked his disciples to watch with him for an hour. And he was afraid of what was coming. Three times he asked his father if the chalice could pass. But then the Lord surrendered to the will of God. St. Luke says that an angel strengthened him.
So we see that the Son of God himself was afraid and we do not need to be ashamed when we are afraid – I am not talking about unreal fears, which must be dealt with in a different way.
But it is necessary to break out of these fears and to take steps of trust in the Lord and not to be seized by the fear. We can say, like the Lord, that God may let the chalice pass us by, but then like him to ask for grace to accept the given situation.
We should take all means of avoiding an evil that reason gives us. But in the various phases of the threat we must turn to God again and again and take steps of trust.
In this way, we can then counteract the dynamic of fears and become more liberated. Let us not forget that an angel came to Jesus and strengthened him! We may also ask for this, because there are fears and circumstances that other people can hardly understand and we may then find ourselves left alone. But God does not leave us alone and will always give us what is important for the next step!
Fears must therefore be overcome concretely with steps of trust, by calling upon the name of Jesus, speaking to him of all the inner cramps and asking that God may touch them. If we continue on this path it will get better and we will escape bit by bit from the domination of fears and gain a new freedom, namely the freedom in Christ in whose hands we lay ourselves completely and full of trust.