Can faith and fear co-exist? Can we have hope in the midst of fear? Aren’t we, as God’s people, especially in difficult times, to eradicate fear from among us? Easier said than done!
While fear is an emotion; faith is a choice. We can’t always control what emotions we feel, but we always have a choice whether or not they control us. With mandated stay at home orders, people wearing surgical masks, social distancing and evaporating jobs and paychecks, even as people of faith, it is completely understandable, if we approach this resurrection season with fear of the unknown. Is it acceptable for people of faith to have fear?
The opposite of faith is not fear, it is unbelief. Faith or even courage is not the absence of fear. Marion Robert Morrison said, “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.” It was a line from the 1969 Western, True Grit, spoken by U.S. Marshal, Rooster Cogburn, played by John Wayne, Morrison’s stage name. It would literally take a much bigger man than myself at 5’-5” to fill the boots of the 6’-4” frame of John Wayne. And as a Law Enforcement Chaplain with four local agencies, I have the privilege to work with some of the finest heroes around, including those in EMS, firefighters and hospital workers. They incredibly perform their jobs day in and day out. I believe that any of them would tell you that Pastor John is not a man of fear. But just like many of you during this current time, fear comes knocking on my door as well. I try my best to be a man of God not dominated by fear, but that doesn’t mean that it’s never there.
These heroes, including those in our ER’s and respiratory units, where COVID-19 positive patients reside, don’t operate from a place of zero fear. I know many of them. They are as scared as the rest of us, if not more so, when they go into work. They just saddle up anyway. And while fear is a powerful emotion, it doesn’t hold a candle to faith!
The apostle Paul wrote in the eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is a substance and we can reach through the tunnel of time, as it were, lay hold of it and bring it into the present where we have the opportunity to move forward giving it life. We can all hold on to faith choosing to move forward. Fear, on the other hand, is a wisp, a ghost, screaming for us to stop with little evidence for doing so. In that same chapter of faith Paul writes, “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” So, you see, Noah had both faith and fear, thereby saving those who would repopulate the world.
The truth is, you and I are not born people of faith. We choose to be people of faith. Jesus chose the pathway of the cross for the benefit of us all. Even in the Garden of Gethsemane, gripped by fear, it was the Divine touch and His choice by faith that marched Him forward, choosing to taste death for every man. So, even in the midst of fear of pain, it was the choice He made that gives us the hope of a Resurrection Sunday! From death to life. From dark to light. From ashes to beauty. From Winter to Summer. His resurrection brings us life and hope!
You don’t need my permission, but even so, I invite you to join me, in this perilous time we’re living in. I invite you to join me in marching forward with faith, even in the midst of fear, as the words of the beloved gospel preacher, S.M. Lockridge, run through my mind, “It’s Friday…but Sunday’s comin!” I’ll See you there!
Pastor John has been a Sr. Pastor for over 36 years in only 2 churches, and also serves as a Regional Law Enforcement Chaplain to 4 local agencies. For more wisdom and insight on pastoral ministry and leaving a good legacy, visit: PastorJohn.net