Rising Above Our Fear
In many countries around the world people are living in fear and lockdown as a result of covid-19. So, when we think of it, we get a better understanding of the fear experienced by the disciples in the days following the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Currently due to coronavirus there are heightened security at airports, supermarkets, pharmacies and other essential services. They have security operating at the entrance to limit the number coming in and going out.
In addition to the virus threat, terrorism scares us, and many people wonder if we will ever truly feel safe again. How will we rise above the fear which permeates the whole fabric of our being? I think we need to realize that we all have fears. All of us are born with a set of natural fears such as, of falling, of the dark, or speaking before an assembly etc. I would say fear could be of different types. One type of fear could be that which weakens our ability to trust or an unhealthy fear. Another type is perhaps a healthy fear. Healthy fears are those which makes us sensitive to the dangers that are a part of life while helping us keep safe and stay alive.
The disciples were engaged in healthy fear. John tells us that, "…the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews…." (John20:19 NRSV). They had watched as Jesus, their Master, leader and most importantly a good friend had been terribly treated, crucified and died. Truly, the disciples must have been really afraid. They were the remaining members of a new group that was deemed by the authorities to be seditious and dangerous. Their leader had just been executed by crucifixion according to the cruel system of Roman justice. They were right to think that they may be next in line. No wonder, they were so concerned for their safety? They didn't want the same thing to happen to them.
But they were also engaged in an unhealthy fear that trapped and controlled them. Even though they had received Mary's message of Jesus' glorious resurrection, still they kept themselves confined due to their fear. It was a prison of their own making which prevented them from sharing the ministry that they had been given. Then, Jesus appeared to them and blessed them with these words, "Peace be with you." This quickly made things to turn around. These words, together with Jesus showing them his hands and side brought great joy among them. Their fear slowly died out as they saw Jesus with their own eyes alive and standing amongst them. So, Jesus instructed them to continue with the ministry of healing, caring, loving and forgiving that he had initially prepared them to do with these words: "…Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." (John 20:21).
Thus, Jesus got them going. He took away their fear.
Do you believe in the Risen Christ or has fear led you to grasp onto something else for comfort? Even though we haven't seen him, His blessing is upon us, despite the fear of covid-19. So, are you still afraid of what the future holds?
God sent Jesus Christ to live among us and be our Lord; not just to inspire us with fine words when we are anxious, although he does that; not just to encourage us with his deeds and miracles when we need a lift, although he does that, too; but God sent Jesus Christ as a reminder that he cares for us.
At the present time the coronavirus is causing so much difficulties and uncertainties. Some people are worried, some are afraid. That's certainly understandable at a time like this. But God will help us find a way out of it. In the meantime, abide by the directions given by the government authorities and pray for our scientists that they may discover a vaccine or some treatment to eliminate this menace. Also pray for doctors, nurses and those helping around the clock trying to bring relief to those who are suffering and are in the middle of this painful situation. Furthermore, have no fear for the love of Christ is already moving towards us, even before we asked. The good news is that he comes to us; he breaks down our locked doors and shows himself to us and empowers us.
Our Risen Lord will help us to rise above our fears. All he asks is that we should have an open heart towards Him, so that he can lead us, and keep leading us, from unhealthy fears and doubts to honest faith and life without fears. Because of him, our lives won't be defined by our fears, but by the grace of God we have received through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Rev Suresh Chandra
Presbyter, Upper Hutt Union Parish