You Can’t Overcome Fear
Fear is a feeling that every human being experiences. There are sensible things that some find scary, such as the dark, heights, spiders, and so on. Others are scared of potential incidences, such as death, or being attacked by a ferocious animal. Some of these things are natural fears that God has set in place that are for our well being and safety. Even the disciples who were physically with Jesus felt these fears. No matter what the fear is, there are times in our lives where fear gets the best of us and prevents us from excelling, and this happens in our spiritual lives quite often. But fear was not put in place to cripple us, but rather it was put in place to make us turn to God for His help, and there is no better story to showcase this than the story of Jesus walking to the disciples on the water.
The experience Saint Peter had gives us an amazing example of what happens when one looks to God to overcome their fear, and what happens on the other hand when we try to fix it on our own. Of the three accounts recorded of this event, Saint Peter’s experience is only seen in Matthew in chapter 14, verses 22-33. Fear is described as, “an unpleasant, often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.” And what we see when Peter looks at and realizes the winds and the furoristy of the ocean surrounding him is exactly this. Once Peter stopped focusing on Christ, and instead became fixated on what was around him, that is when he began to fall both physically and faithfully. “But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’” (Matthew 14:30). He only began to sink once he stopped looking at Christ, and began to look at and become overwhelmed by the situation he was in. However, Christ never moved, He was there the whole time, and it was Peter who lost his faith in that moment.
And this is the exact problem we fall into. We are not fully committing our life and our faith to God. We excel only to a certain point relying on our worldly strengths, but once we realize a situation is no longer in our hands, we become fearful. So how do we avoid this? By being faithful ONLY in the Lord. By reassuring ourselves that we have no capabilities aside from Him. “I sat on top of the world when I came to fear nothing and desire nothing but you” (Saint Augustine). Because once we heartily confess that we have done nothing and can do nothing without Him, He will see our faith in Him, and then His fearless power will work within us. “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.“When you are strong in faith, fear will have no way into your heart” Bishop Youssef.
Think of a child learning how to ride a bicycle. When the child is learning, the parent makes sure to supervise them until they overcome their fear and are able to control the bicycle on their own. We too, in order to overcome any fear we feel may be keeping us away from God, must attempt to triumph over it with the help of God. And though it may seem like we have no supervision, we are sorely mistaken. When Peter falls into the water, Christ tells him that he has little faith, but despite that, Christ was still there to pick him up. So how much more do you believe that Christ will be there for you when your faith and hope in Him is strong? Just as a parent would not leave their child alone as they learn to ride their bicycle, so God is always watching us as we take on those things we are fearful of. And once you have learned to handle that fear, God is still with you as well, so that if there is any moment of doubt again, you may turn to Him. He is the perfect parent, the One who never leaves our side.
So in order to overcome fear, we must become close to Him. We believe in ourselves because we know ourselves and trust ourselves. Through commitment to our spiritual lives, especially in this time of Lent, we can begin to know Him, and thereby learn to trust Him and not ourselves, and finally we will love Him. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18).