In the days since the election, one profound, debilitating emotion colors the reactions of the people I care about: fear. The origin of that fear is as diverse as my friends, relatives, and students.
An undocumented friend on the road to legalization pondered what her life might become if she happened to be deported and ripped away from her American family: her legal husband and her American-born children.
A black friend challenged the popular sentiment: everything will be okay. “We don’t know that. What are we basing that on? God was still in control during slavery. And lynchings. You don’t know that everything is going to be okay.”
A gay family member expressed fear of being attacked for speaking out. “That’s scary… I shouldn’t [have to] feel afraid… I hate him for making me fear.”
A white friend worried about the possibility of an armed conflict with Russia.
Fear transcends race, culture, and politics.
For many years, fear controlled my life. One weekend, I experienced a powerful, dramatic touch of the Holy Spirit that stripped that fear away. Sure, from time to time, something here or there will make me feel nervous or anxious, but that controlling, gripping fear—that’s gone. Captured in the grasp of terror, I could not have moved to a poor area of Mexico where my husband and I worked for most of a decade. Occasionally, I have to do some soul-searching prayer to maintain my grasp on peace and keep the fear out. But for the most part, debilitating fear has not shaped my decisions for ten years. I’m not about to let fear back in.
Fear is a horrible void, a faceless unknown, a dark, terrifying beast. Fear gives no advantage to the fearful or benefit to the anxious and no glory to God. Biblical angelic visits begin with the same, simple command, “Don’t be afraid!”
The Bible offers a powerful antidote to fear, love. Rejecting fear does NOT mean that everything will work out. It does NOT mean that my friends won’t be deported or harassed, or attacked. It does NOT mean that wars will not break out or that peace will always reign. But love is stronger. God’s love for us is bigger. We may be attacked, harassed, and distressed, but we will never be alone. God’s love will surround us and carry us through the worst turmoil. I continue to pray for peace. I certainly hope that none of my friends’ fears come to pass. Regardless, I’m no longer a slave to fear.