Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Faith and Fear

If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again.

Fear is the most important concept in that sentence, as I see it today. C. S. Lewis mentioned that grief was so much like fear. For me, his description rings true.

Fear is a paralyzing, destabliizing, and insidious force. Fear, rather than hate or indifference, may be the opposite of love. Whether it is love's exact opposite is irrelevant, fear is far from love. And yet grief enters in feeling like fear or perhaps bringing fear with it.

Fear cannot be negotiated with or thought away. Fear responds only to action. This quote is call to courage in response to fear to do something counter to fear. Fear left to ahve free reign occupies all emotional, mental, psychological and spiritual space. Action demonstrates to fear that it is not allowed to own a soul.

And yet action must arise from conviction, no matter how small or doubted that conviction might be. It is no small matter to take a single action in the presence of fear because it requires the extent of courage which exists.

Even little things, in the presence of great fear, are incredibly courageopus, even if objectively insiginficant. It is the relative sigificance that matters. No one can know the extent of another's courage until they know the extent of their fear.

Fear visits me as I am watching and sharing the grief of my friends. It calls for me to quit, to despair, to roll over. And the call has a convincing logic. The death of a child is a fearful and compelling argument. God's love is a tough thing to understand in this time. This is where the rubber of my faith meets the road of this world.

But it looks like the choice is clear, despair or believe. And I believe. I am in no position to make a great argument for the case of faith, but I believe that there is life after this life and that death is a mystical mediating process from this life to the next - like birth is a mediating (and from my observations a painful) process from womb-life to life outside the womb.

I lean on the story of Jesus raising from the dead and trust that being raised is the result for us all. In the conext of fear and pain, faith is much less easy to discern. However, having the story of Christ and all of the evidence of God all over the world does not disappear when a piece of the life we live does not make sense. It just places seemingly conflicting things right next to each other.

I think I'll end with this: faith makes at least as much sense as despair in the loss of a child. And to be sure, these will jockey for position. The work of grief is in large part the work of faith. It is the undoing of fear's imposition into life.

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