A headline in the business section of "The New York Times" read, "Calm Down. That Wolf at the Door Has Been Here Before" (May 23).
The writer implied that fear is the wolf at the door in today's economy - fear of rising interest rates, fluctuating oil prices, low investment yields. Yet he described an optimism that is prevalent despite anxiety about financial instability in the world. Somehow the economy manages to survive even when on a roller coaster of highs and lows.
It sometimes seems to me that we live today in a culture of fear. Especially when there seem to be so many wolves knocking at the door. Since September 11, 2001, the United States government has raised or lowered color-coded warnings related to the fear of terrorism. The wolves at the door also include fear of global warming, of natural disasters, of getting sick, of crime. Fear of just about everything. It's hard to get away from it.
So, what can be done about fear? Do we have a choice?
Television news programs frequently interview people who have put their own lives at risk to help and save others. Bravery seems to transcend almost any fear they could have. A man recently carried some children to safety from a burning house. He wasn't a relative or a firefighter, but someone merely driving by the home as flames consumed it. "What's it like to be a hero?" he was asked. His reply included something about just doing what he felt he had to do. Courage seemed to be just a part of who he was. It never occurred to him to be frightened. And he didn't see himself as a hero. Just an ordinary guy.
Most people would agree that expressing courage and staying calm are important ingredients in dealing with fear. But there may be a need for something more to be added - something bigger, something higher, something more solid. This is a spiritual embrace that prepares us to deal with the wolves of fear. In fact, I'm convinced that success in ridding oneself of fear lies in making a deliberate choice to turn to God.
Through study of the Bible and "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, I have been able to prove that when fear tries to grab hold of us, right at that moment God is actually enveloping us, keeping us safe. Even when we're in the throes of a life-threatening situation such as a car accident, a burning building, or an earthquake. Even when confronted by an abusive spouse or a class bully.
This is about more than not getting rattled. It's about prayer. It's about tuning in mentally to the divine intelligence, God. It starts with taking hold in thought of a power superior to any fears and to any untenable conditions we might be facing. It's about wrapping ourselves securely in the arms of a loving Father-Mother who cares for all of His sons and daughters.
The result? A way out of danger, big or small. This outcome is more than what is usually described as divine intervention. It's the recognition that we are never distant, never apart, from God. His love is always providing us with what is needed, grounding us in safety and well-being. Clinging to this as true in our lives can actually free us from even the feelings of fear and anxiety.
In a song of triumph, the shepherd David sang, "The Lord protects me from all danger; I will never be afraid" (Ps. 27:1, Good News Bible). That promise assures us that we can actually slam the door on fear.
Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation
of the wicked, when it cometh.
For the Lord shall be
and shall keep thy foot
from being taken.
Proverbs 3:25, 26