1 Timothy 1:7
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.
“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning.
[Grief] gives life a permanently provisional feeling.”
- C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
As many of you know, last week, our church had it’s annual United Mission Week. For those of you reading this that aren’t aware, each year, our Student Ministries team facilitates a week-long local mission experience for our students and their families. It’s usually an incredible time of fellowship, fun, and hard work for our students and volunteers. As is the case with many things right now, we had to modify the experience. There was no lock-in at the church, not physically gathering for worship, and no large work teams deploying throughout the community.
I had the privilege of being one of the persons who preached for this year’s mission week. In my preparation, I had the opportunity to reflect on a few things that I think apply to all of us. Firstly, as we continue this time of physical distance through the summer and are making plans with a particular uncertainty of the coming fall semester, many of us continue to lament. We lament because nothing seems to be the same anymore, and we long for sameness. There’s something comfortable about familiarity, and we want what we want the way we want it. We feel this sense of loss deeply, and yet, we know that loss is simply a part of life. But if we know that, why are we so grief-stricken at this moment? As people of faith, isn’t it curious that our griefs tend to outweigh our gratitude for the many blessings God has given us? As people of faith, isn’t it curious that our sorrows tend to outweigh our celebration of God’s movement in our lives? As people of faith, isn’t it curious that our remorse tends to outweigh our utter reliance upon God?
The loss we are currently experiencing isn’t the problem. C.S. Lewis once wrote, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. [Grief] gives life a permanently provisional feeling.” The problem we run into is in the space between Grief and fear, and that space is loss. The journey between Grief and fear is driven along the route we choose with our loss. Loss that is not ultimately tempered by hope will devolve into fear, and fear wreaks havoc on our faith.
This is why the Apostle Paul admonished Timothy to give fear up. In this letter to his young protégé, his son in the ministry, Paul encourages this young pastor by reminding him of a fundamental truth. GOD HAS NOT GIVEN US A SPIRIT OF FEAR, BUT OF POWER! Timothy is perpetually plagued with timidity, but Paul reminds him that fear doesn’t belong to us. Faith is an outward motion, and fear makes us go inward. Fear limits the capacity of faith’s impact on our lives. If faith is trust in God, fear blocks us from fully accessing and relying on that relationship. Fear drives us to interpret change and grief as a loss to be feared. Faith, on the other hand, allows us to trust God, so even when we can’t see what comes next clearly, we can trust God with our future.
As I mentioned to our students, we’ve not lost our mission. We’ve only changed the method by which we can accomplish that mission. There is considerable uncertainty, and yet, even in that, God is still God. And since God is still God, in God, we have not been given a spirit of fear, but power, love, and a sound mind.
How are you handling the constant inconstancy of our current situation?
Do you see fear showing up in your life (fear of the future, fear of failure, fear of loss, etc.)
Where in your life can you trust God more?
O God, through the power of your love, you have given us the grace to trust you. This grace grants us the ability to have faith in you, and in that faith, our fears can be overcome. Help us live beyond our fears and doubts and lean and depend on you in every circumstance. Help us share our lives with you, so when fear presents itself, we have what we need to stand. Help us to trust you better, and in trusting you, we can love you better, love ourselves better, and love our neighbors better. Perfect love casts out all fear, and in your love, we can live truly unafraid. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen!
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.