'Why Am I So Afraid?'

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

Have you ever asked yourself a similar question? I have. Questions are a helpful tool when fear and doubt are hounding you. Chronic uncertainty would have us believe that "there is nothing but trouble ahead" or that "it's like a jungle out there." War and poverty may prompt us to wonder: "Is there really a God?"

These thoughts can become opportunities to end foreboding fears and to avoid the troubles that stem from not knowing God's true nature.

Christ Jesus, who was well acquainted with angry mobs and hostile rulers, often used questions to promote the moral and spiritual thinking of his followers. After a day of teaching a multitude, Jesus and his disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee in a ship. A storm arose (see Mark 4:35-41). Jesus was asleep, but the disciples were afraid. They woke him with a question: "Master, carest thou not that we perish?" Before he answered, he "rebuked the wind . . . and there was a great calm" inside and outside the ship.

Questions usually elicit direct answers, but Jesus answered the disciples' question with two questions of his own: "Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?" His second question answered the first one. The disciples were fearful because they had no faith. This provided an object lesson for them.

Faith antidotes fear. It is more than an earnest longing or an inactive trust. Real faith is not "blind"; it is the precursor of spiritual understanding, which reveals the truth of our existence. Christian Science, based on the words and works of Jesus, shows that he taught the truth; he embodied God's Word. Christ reveals to each heart that God, the only creator, is infinite Love, and that He watches over and cares for His creation.

I learned these spiritual facts at a time of great difficulty. Human resources and sheer doggedness had proved useless to help me. I began praying, although I felt God was distant. My prayer was a simple plea for help. And it was answered in an unexpected way.

A woman who saw my need gave me a copy of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the textbook of Christian Science. "It will help you," she said. The first chapter of this book by Mary Baker Eddy is titled "Prayer." Its first sentence caught and held my attention: "The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God,-a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love" (p. 1).

This was a startling concept of prayer for me. I had always had a childlike faith in God. But my faith became more firm as I began to gain a spiritual understanding of God and to put into practice this newfound understanding. In particular, I became increasingly free of fear, which helped me resolve my difficulties. Freedom from fear is a gift of God. God makes us forever free.

I remember well a healing of fear that I had early on. After relocating to a large city, I was scheduled to interview for a position I very much wanted. As I sat in the waiting room, I was seized by fear and anxiety. Here was an opportunity to pray. And as I turned to thoughts of God, I remembered words from a hymn I knew that begins, "Our God is All-in-all, / His children cannot fear" (Christian Science Hymnal, No. 267). "Cannot," the hymn said, not "should not." How could I be afraid? God is omnipresent Love, the opposite of fear.

After the interview I was given the job. But more important, I had seen fear proved powerless in a very tangible way. These ideas have come to me scores of times since, when I have needed them most. God is All, and He is good; because of this, fear and faith are incompatible.

Acknowledging and accepting God's unending love for us can unclasp any hold of fear. We are able to hear with clarity the message of the compassionate command Jesus gave to his disciples, "Be not afraid" (Matthew 14:27). And as we feel the power of this message, there is "a great calm."

You'll find other articles that help you pray about fear in a monthly magazine, The Christian Science Journal.

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