I've been having a lot of conversations lately about why God doesn't do more to right all the things in the world that are wrong.
Invariably these conversations turn to what prompts them all in the first place, which is the sense of helplessness and fear that most of us experience in the face of the evil, violence, injustice and uncertainty that seem so prevalent in our world.
It's naive for us to think that ours is the only time in history when people feel such things, and are prompted to ask those same questions about God's presence in the midst of them all. But still, the questions and the fears remain, and what are we to do about them?
To begin, we need to be clear about fear itself. Fear is paralyzing. Fear is debilitating. Fear drives us to do and to say things that come from the darkest corners of our souls. And, for most of us, fear is an evil unto itself.
The French writer Montaigne once wrote, "Who fears to suffer, suffers already because he fears."
Our fears, when projected on to the world, cause us to twist our view, distort our beliefs and lead us to act contrary to our true nature in Christ.
On more than one occasion, when he revealed himself to his followers in miraculous ways (walking on water, appearing suddenly in the Upper Room with him after the Resurrection, come to mind), Jesus would exhort them to "Fear not!" or "Don't be afraid!"
As we move into Holy Week, let us hear with new ears the exhortations of the Risen Christ to "Fear not!" May we find the courage and the faith to banish our fears and be filled with defiant hope--even in the face of struggle and suffering.
And may we learn to pray as the Psalmist, "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." - Psalm 4:8
Beloved, as you reach the end of this season of Lent, may you truly know that the grace and peace of the Risen Christ is with you now and always. Amen.