We seem to be a people deeply in fear. It is everywhere and expressed in so many ways.
How many times have you been in a conversation with a contemporary while watching children and made the crack, “It’s amazing we made it to adulthood,” as you note the children are in helmets, pads, and perhaps several layers of bubble wrap. Current generations of parents fear injury to children that were just considered a part of life when we were young. We fear illegal immigration, we fear losing our jobs. Conservatives fear Clinton and Liberals, and some conservatives, fear Trump. We fear a government so big that we are rendered unneeded. The campaigns we see on all levels, political and commercial, are built on answering our fears. Products ranging from super-flashlights to survival kits to gold investments are marketed to us based on some unforeseeable future problem – we are simply afraid of tomorrow.
Sometimes I worry that fear is eating us alive, robbing us of life. I am not trying to say that a certain amount of foresight and preparation are not good things, but that is different than fear. Fear is a lack of faith in ourselves and in our Lord. Sometimes it is more prudent to simply work through a difficult situation than to attempt to avoid or prevent it, but if we lack faith in our ability to cope with some situation we freeze in fear. That’s kind of how the nation feels right now – like we have no faith in our ability to cope with what comes next.
This is a fundamental fracture in the fabric of this nation, and a far cry from FDR who reminded us that the only thing we really need to fear is fear. It is an even farther cry from the nation’s first settlers that left Europe barely able to navigate here. This nation has enjoyed more materialistic success than any nation in history, but we have done so precisely because we were not fundamentally materialistic. We were devoted to other things and thus willing to risk. Our devotion to those other things overrode our fear of losing our material gain. But it seems no more. We seem so afraid of losing what we have that we dare not take a risk. This means one thing – we have become more devoted to our material things than to those other things that drove us forward.
I have wept over this election – not because the choices are so poor, but because the fear so evident in it marks this loss of devotion to higher things. And my tears have come most freely when I hear the fear running through churches. For if there is a place where devotion to higher things should remain prevalent, it is in our churches. Yet so many churches fear the loss of religious freedom more than they rely on the power of God. Yes the church today is under attack in America, but what we suffer under is utterly insignificant in comparison to the church historically or even in other parts of the world today. I weep because we have become so faithless.
In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,
“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
How dare we live in fear? That does not mean there is nothing to be afraid of, even Jesus feared His own death, but like Christ we have God’s resources at our disposal and no matter how dark the next period seems there is victory on the other side.
The nation will not recapture its hopefulness unless the church first recaptures its faith. God is for us! The victory is won! It is high time we started to act like it.