No need to fear

March 23, 2009

by Fr. Tom Balluff, Church of St. Mary of Czestochowa, rural Delano

President Roosevelt once said, “…all we have to fear is fear itself.”

I do not think, with the crazy economics we have been experiencing, that we are in as bad shape as we were when he spoke these words in the midst of the Great Depression. But I do wonder how bad things will become.

Daily, we hear about the stock market going down, housing in a deep slump, and the banking system on the verge of collapse. Terrorism is a constant worry on many minds. Something could happen at any moment.

One could wonder what lies ahead for us. We might even be tempted to a paralyzing fear or worse, panic. But this is where our wonderful, beautiful faith can help us.

Let me share some of my thoughts. As a man of faith, I believe that God is in control. He may allow all of these difficulties, problems, even storms in life to happen in order to wake us up – to help us get back to the basics of what’s really important in life.

We need to realize that the money and materialism many have fallen into are not what life is about, rather, being with family and friends are what is important. Enjoying their company, sharing and laughing with them, praying and spending time with our God, practicing our faith in such a way that drives out all fear – that is what life is about.

Fear is not from God. Trust and confidence are the foundations to a strong spiritual life, while fear leads us away from a kind, loving, gentle, merciful, and compassionate God, who desires our friendship so much that He is willing to help us “wake up” with difficult problems and the storms of life.

Our faith is tested by trial and tribulation. This is what makes it strong and perfect. Faith believes, even in the midst of great darkness or overwhelming odds, that God does love us very much and wants us all to share eternal life with Him at the end of our own life here in this world.

Just as in World War II, during the Nazi Holocaust, God allows humanity to exercise its free will. If God had his way, the world would be a paradise with everyone loving everyone perfectly. The problem with human beings is that we are oftentimes seduced into sinful behavior that hurts and wounds those around us. It is what we call the scary gift of free will.

We have the ability as human beings to choose sinful evil behavior. This is called license, but is not true freedom. True freedom comes to us when we choose goodness and virtue. The more we love God and our neighbor, the more truly free we become and the less fear we live with.

True authentic love drives out all fear. We do not need to be afraid of what’s ahead, no matter what may come. As a people of faith and hope, we know our reward will come after this earthly existence is over.

Those who have a strong, consistent prayer life will remain in God’s love and will continue to have a powerfully good impact on our culture and society.

If you find yourself afraid and fearful, consider giving God a try. He is always there.