Fear–By Hannah Dustman
Jesus was scared. Yep, you read that right. Jesus was scared. That’s not usually a sentence we hear or we share with one another. We (or at least I) think of Jesus as mighty, indestructible and triumphant. And He is all of those things, and more, but He was also scared.
I often struggle humanizing Jesus. I think of Him more in His godly form than in His human form. While He is God, Jesus was also a human being who lived, breathed and walked on this earth. While He is God, Jesus experienced the heartbreak and struggles we do every day.
But being that He is the Son of God, Jesus knew from early on why He was sent to earth. It wasn’t long into His ministry when He shared with His disciples that He was going to suffer and die. While He had the strength and faith to follow His Father’s plan, I have no doubt that the idea of sacrificing Himself for the world, the people who constantly turned away from Him, denied Him and refused to accept Him, scared Him.
During the agony in garden at Gethsemane, Jesus suffered greatly, both mentally and physically. Jesus knew that His friend whom He had spent so much time with and had celebrated the Passover with was going to betray Him and before long the soldiers would come and arrest Him. Jesus knew that His arrest would lead to His Passion and death. Jesus was in such distress that His capillaries burst and He began to sweat blood. Jesus begged His Father to save Him, saying “Father, if you are willing, take this cup of suffering from me.” (Luke 22:42). Jesus was in pain and He was scared. He didn’t want to suffer, to be beaten and killed.
But here is the kicker. This is what makes Jesus so strong. Even though He was afraid, He was faithful and had enough trust in God to submit to His holy will. The verse finishes, “Yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42) It is through His submission to God that Jesus becomes mighty, indestructible and triumphant.
If Jesus would have ran out of the garden, hid from the soldiers and escaped death, then we wouldn’t have a Savior nor would our sins be forgiven. Without His life-giving sacrifice, we would be condemned to death.
Fear is a powerful word. However, it is only powerful if we give it its power. While Jesus was scared, He did not give into fear, instead He fought against it. Fear had no power over Him.
Faith in God drives out fear.
“There is no fear in love; instead perfect love drives out fear.” (1 John 4:18)
God is the definition of perfect love; therefore God drives out fear.
However, allowing yourself to see God as that perfect love and remedy to fear doesn’t just happen overnight. It is a process that requires you to put total trust in the Lord and His plans for you.
Early this summer, I began fighting my battle against anxiety. I have always been a very sentimental person and feel things, both positive and negative, very deeply. However, the difference was I had become afraid. I began to create all kinds of “what if” scenarios in my head. For example, what if something bad happened to me or someone I cared about? In the moment, that fear paralyzed me and I was overtaken by anxiety and panic. While I had obviously been upset before, I had never felt panicky and that I had no control over my fears. I dreaded being alone because I was afraid that during the silence, my mind would bring up these thoughts that I desperately wanted to forget but couldn’t seem to shake.
What I didn’t realize was that it is during the silence that God speaks. While it was difficult, I dared myself to spend more time in silence. Choosing to be alone required me to put more trust in God, that He would slow my mind and help me maintain peace.
When we live our lives in fear of the “what ifs” of the future we lose track of what’s going on in the here and now – the present moment. By giving into the anxiety I was giving fear its power and letting it control what I thought about myself and others and how I lived my life. I didn’t have power over my day, my day, filled with worry and anxiousness, had power over me.
But God doesn’t care that I was afraid, but He cares how I respond to that fear. Do I come to Him or run in the opposite direction thinking I can figure it out on my own? God tells us to come to Him.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Fear and anxieties is not of God. God wants us to live confidently as the person He created us to be in union with Him. However, Satan knows one way to come between us and God is to turn us into our own worst enemy. Satan filled my mind with these fears and lies as a way to break the trust I had built with God and make me question who God had created me to be. Yet, it is through God that we find the strength and power to see through the lies the devil feeds us. The more I turn to prayer and the sacraments the easier my burden becomes because I invite Him into the depths of my heart and soul and He helps me carry the load where I need to go according to His plan.
Recently a friend shared the following thought with me during Bible study. Not only do I think it is beautiful and worth repeating but I also think it helps illustrate the point that Jesus truly does give us the strength we need.
When we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, He gives us all of Himself, including His own strength – the same strength that allowed Him to endure so much pain and suffering during His Passion. When we are in communion with Jesus, He gives us the strength we need to carry our own crosses and endure our own suffering.
Jesus was scared but He persevered. Throughout His Passion, Jesus never spoke out against His persecutors. He persevered and fought peacefully until His last breath on the cross. In the same way, I am convicted that God is asking me to follow this example and to persevere in my own trials, particularly in my struggle with anxiety. He isn’t going to lift my cross and take away the pain it causes overnight. But through faithfulness and continuously going to Him with honest and intentional prayers, He will show me how to grow in holiness and teach me how to silence my fears. And I have seen progress. The anxiety and panic isn’t as intense as it was earlier this summer. That doesn’t mean it has gone away entirely, but I have more trust in myself, and more importantly more trust in God, that I can keep the anxiety in check and let God not fear rule my life.
Hannah is a senior at Mizzou studying journalism with an emphasis in public relations. Her favorite things include wine, ice cream, traveling and experiencing new cultures and places and spending time with her friends and family.