Some years ago I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in many years. Naturally, I asked how she was. She replied that, for that day, her faith was greater than her fears. I have always thought that to be a very honest answer, filled with more wisdom than first seems apparent. It certainly resonates with me. At times, my faith has a certain comfortable, lived in, settled quality of well- being, even thankful exuberance. At other times, anxieties, fears and doubts from the world feel like an assault on my spirit. Why this tension between faith and fear?
During this past Lenten period I took some time for introspection on this issue, not looking for excuses but trying for deeper understanding. In looking at the lives of many of the “heroes of the Bible”, like Abraham, Moses, Jacob, David, and all the disciples, it understates the case to say they had tension between faith and fear ( or more bluntly, sin ). Their sins included murder, adultery, disobedience, dishonesty, fear, anxiety, doubt and who knows what else. But here’s the thing. The constant is always reconciliation by God’s grace and mercy. By God’s grace, his loving, understanding and forgiving action in their lives, they ended up victorious!
The tension between faith and fear (specifically, doubt and unbelief) is summed up well in a quote from Fyodor Dostoyevsky as mentioned by The Very Reverend Dr. Henry L. Thompson in his preface to Trinity Seminary’s 2022 Lenten devotional. Dr. Thompson quotes Dostoevsky as follows: “ I am a child of the age, a child of doubt and unbelief, and even, I’m certain, till the day they close the lid of my coffin. What terrible torment this thirst to believe has cost me and is still costing me, the stronger it becomes in my soul, the stronger the arguments against it. And despite all this God sends me moments of great tranquility, moments during which I love and find I am loved by others…there is nothing more beautiful, more profound, more sympathetic, more reasonable, more courageous, and more perfect than Christ.”
I take great comfort in knowing that every sin and every worldly challenge in my life is met by the conquering Jesus, the perfect Christ.