People today have lots of reasons to be afraid. People fear for safety. You do not know where you might be when a shooter appears. You could be in your office like the news people in Maryland. People fear financial collapse. For example, what happens if you are living on a tight budget and major medical catastrophe strikes? People become afraid when they see no purpose to their lives and can fall into depression. The suicide rates are up, as we know, especially among the young.
Jesus told those who came from the Synagogue Official’s house: “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” (Mk 5:36) Does Jesus mean that if we have faith we will always be safe? Does Jesus mean that we will not face financial ruin? Does Jesus mean He will keep one from taking one’s own life? I do not think so. You may not want to hear this, but God does not fix our problems. The Evangelical preachers of the gospel of prosperity simply have it wrong. You are not guaranteed prosperity if you follow the gospel.
So what does Jesus mean when He says: “Do not be afraid?” It means to trust in God and never give up no matter what. It means that in good times and in bad, in moments of joy and in moments of sadness, in moments of glory and in moments of the cross, to trust in God – to have faith in God and in His Son, Jesus Christ. God is always with us in all our human experiences. When we suffer, God suffers with us. When he are happy, God is happy with us.
When I suffered one infection after another in my leg, I asked God to heal me. God did not answer my prayer as I asked. But God did answer my prayer in a different way. I am not walking with my own leg but with a prosthesis. God answered my prayer and the prayers of all those who prayed for me. I cannot tell you the blessings I experienced during these past nine months and the new spiritual doors that opened for me.
God always answers our prayers. God always brings all things to good, but we have to be patient and trust. God is always with us. Do I understand why my sister was widowed as a young mother with five children? Do I understand why my brother and his wife lost their 17 year old daughter to a drunk driver? I do not. We can only trust and not give up hope. In some mysterious way our faith keeps us going and God will bring all things to good.
However, we must go a step further and not allow ourselves to be passive recipients of grace. To trust in God means we must work to reduce violence to secure physical safety in society for all. To trust in God means that we must provide a safety net in society especially for the poor and vulnerable. To trust in God means to search for meaning in life by following Christ. In other words, trusting in God must bear fruit by helping people.
Jesus says to each of us: ‘Do not be afraid; just have faith.”