Fear is Love's Enemy...5 Steps to Banish It! (Part II of II)
Many of us may pray daily, read and live Scripture, and commit to following Jesus’ commandments. But we are still prone to having our peace disturbed, our interior security rattled. Why? Because we do not depend entirely upon God. We do not trust that it is HIS will—never our own—which is “our food.” We are “happy” and “peaceful” when everything is going well in our lives; when we are in control and rely not on God (totally or at all) but on ourselves… but we still get angry and disturbed when we encounter obstacles, contradictions, and disappointments. It is because we are not totally abandoned to Him, dependent upon Him the way the birds of the air or the creatures of the forest are. True, we can’t help but feel the sting of the “thorns”, of these unexpected and unwanted sufferings which real love demands—yes, that is human. But then we should imitate Jesus in His humanity when He said,
"…take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done." (Luke 22:42)
Notice how after Jesus made this prayer in Gethsemane, an angel was sent to comfort Him. We then read that He fearlessly stood up, and rather than fleeing, approached His persecutors who had come to arrest Him. The Father sends the same angel of strength and courage to those who are abandoned to Him and resolve to rely on Him alone and love as He does with His own strength.
To accept what God allows, whether it is to our liking or not, is to be like a little child. Such a soul who walks in that kind of abandonment is no longer afraid, but he sees everything as being from God, and therefore good—even, or rather, especially, when it is the Cross. David wrote:
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
Following the “light” of God’s will casts away the darkness of fear:
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)
Do not ever be afraid if God seems distant in your suffering, like He has forgotten you. He will never forget you. He cannot forget you. Rather, God sometimes hides Himself and His intentions so as to reveal to us whether or not we actually trust Him and will wait for His timing and providence in our lives. When it came to feeding the five thousand, Jesus said:
“'Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?' He said this to test [Philip], because He Himself knew what He was going to do." (cf. John 6:1-15)
Yes, He knows… but He waits for our trust and our willingness to surrender total control of our lives and our hearts to Him so that He can teach us to love like Him in a way that is real, authentic, and true. Real Love is ALWAYS God’s desire for us, for it is Him. His Love that drives out all fear!
If following Him seems difficult, don’t be afraid, trust Him, be confident that He is close to you, He is with you and He will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live and love as He would have you do. —POPE FRANCIS, Easter Vigil Homily
Lastly, fear is vanquished by Real Love, and the fruit of Real Love is authentic joy! True joy is a fruit of the Spirit. When we live points I—IV above, then joy will be born naturally as a fruit of the Spirit of Real Love coming authentically alive within us. You can’t fall in love with Jesus and not be joyful! While “positive thinking” and superficial happiness are not enough to drive out fear, true joy—especially in the midst of suffering—is the proper attitude for a child of God that creates the disposition for holy courage.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:7)
Choosing Real Love enables God to open wider our hearts to Him, to pray, to avoid the pitfalls of bitterness, selfishness, indifference, and resentment, and to embrace the will of the Father which is that we truly love as His Son shows us to. Always. Every time. Every one. Everywhere. No matter what.
Ex-satanist, Deborah Lipsky, recently wrote a book in which she explains that self-centered and self-focused thinking and living is like a beacon that draws evil spirits toward us, like rotting meat draws flies. So, for those who are pre-disposed to being self-centered, those who seek control and are unwilling to suffer like Jesus—especially for the sake of Love—watch out! You are attracting darkness, and darkness drives out the light of holy courage, replacing it with bitterness, division, resentment, and ultimately, death.
"Our daily problems and worries can wrap us up in ourselves, in sadness and bitterness… and that is where death is. That is not the place to look for the One who is alive!" —POPE FRANCIS, Easter Vigil Homily
To be joyful does not ignore or run from reality, sorrow, and suffering; it does not play-act. In fact, it is the joy of Jesus that enables us to comfort the mourning, to liberate the prisoner, to pour balm on the wounds of the wounded, precisely because we carry to them the joy and hope of the Resurrection that lies beyond the crosses of our suffering.
It is so important (and I have learned this the hard way!) that we choose to love the Lord and others so completely and unselfishly that it hurts us; constantly emptying us of ourselves; ridding us of the power and lies of the Enemy who tries to convince us that suffering love is not the path to true joy! One of the best ways to do this is to cultivate a spirit of thanksgiving in all things—all things:
“In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess 5:18)
This too is what it means when Pope Francis says, “not to look among the dead for the Living One.” That is, for the Christian, we find hope in the Cross, life in the Valley of Death, and light in the tomb through a faith that believes ALL things work to the good for those who truly love Him."
By living out these five means, which I certainly believe are absolutely necessary to the living out of every authentic Christian life, we can be assured that Love will conquer fear in our hearts, and the darkness that appears to be readily descending upon our world. In doing these things, we will be able to help other Christians who do not truly follow after Jesus but rather, follow themselves because they are crippled and enslaved by the fear of what Love demands to, by the light of our faith, begin looking for the Living One as well.
“You shall not fear the terror of the night nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that roams in darkness, nor the plague that ravages at noon. Though a thousand fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, near you it shall not come. You need simply watch; the punishment of the wicked you will see. Because you have the Lord for your refuge and have made the Most High your stronghold…” (Psalm 91-5-9)
Yes, my brothers, indeed: BE NOT AFRAID!
St. John Paul II, pray for us!
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto Thine.
You may contact Luke at: firstname.lastname@example.org