Living Beyond Fear and Doubt
- Sunday, April 15, 2018
- By Ross Smillie
A person who feels no fear, ever, is a foolish person. A healthy fear of traffic, for example, teaches us to look both ways before we cross the street. A healthy fear of gravity teaches you to acquire certain skills before you point your skis or your board down a steep hill. But without pushing the boundaries of our fears, we could never cross the street, or learn to negotiate a ski hill. A person who is overwhelmed by fear will never really be able to live, to do a good job of parenting, or to face any insecurity. To live life with courage means to acknowledge the things that scare us, and to choose how we will respond to our fears.
That is the only way to experience real, abundant life. When the stone was rolled away from Jesus’ tomb, the first disciples gradually came to realize that all the things that caused them fear, no longer had power over them. They could be afraid, and not be overwhelmed by their fear. They could face persecution, suffering, even death, without immobilizing fear.
In the same way, there is a healthy doubt and an unhealthy one. Without the grace of doubt, we would grow rigid and unbending, arrogant and uncompromising. Without doubt, we never change, grow or develop.
But doubts can also be immobilizing; when we make doubt a way of life, when we grow cynical and negative, we are unable to commit to anything because we have no sense of what life is for, of what is worthy of our devotion, of our time, our energy, our life. A life immobilized by doubt is ultimately one which is lived without purpose, conviction, trust or hope.
When the stone was rolled away from Jesus’ tomb, the first disciples came to realize that they could live with confusion and doubt without being immobilized by it. They still had doubts, as the story of doubting Thomas acknowledges quite clearly, but beyond their doubts they were able to recognize a truth that went beyond their intellectual questions and touched their deepest intuitions about the meaning of life. They recognized that life, at its heart, is about love. They recognized that God is love, and that whoever lives in love, lives in God. By placing their trust in a God of love, they found that they could live with their doubts, without allowing their doubts to immobilize them.
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