A few weeks ago, I saw a post on social media from a Christian man who claimed that the reason this year has been so difficult is because humankind is being punished for straying away from God. Although many people rushed to defend or condemn the man’s post, it made me wonder whether or not people could actually believe that God is vengeful and wants to use fear and negative acts against us.
I remembered a conversation I had with a seminarian friend of mine about fear. I was nervous about moving to a totally new state for college. I didn’t know a single person, I had only visited my college once, and I was about to pack up and move there totally alone. Of course, I was excited, but there was something in the back of my mind that told me I should be worried or anxious rather than ready for the change I so desperately wanted.
He said that he often experienced the same thing, especially when he was discerning his future of being a priest. He told me that we all fear, but that fear is not from God. Any panic or uncertainty that I was feeling was not something that God was putting on me. Rather, those feelings of fear can come from within ourselves or from the devil. They can be lies and insecurities the enemy wants us to focus on instead of the good or the new that we are excited to experience.
The fear that has been existing throughout this year is no exception to that. It seems everywhere you look you see the negative side of everything. Current events, interesting gossip and social media appear to focus only on what is going wrong, and with so much going wrong, how can we ever focus on what is going right? It is so easy to dwell on the fear we feel, especially when we are constantly surrounded by it. However, this is something that can easily be resolved.
When we consider that fear is not from God, it is easy to take a breath and reevaluate our point of view. This is not to say we should ignore or discount the pain that is occurring around the world. In fact, we should be doing just the opposite. We should be considering the bad, but in the end, we must realize that God does not create bad. Nor does he abandon us when we are seemingly surrounded by the bad.
The enemy is tricky. He is subtle and wants us to believe that every negative thing happening in our world should be blamed on the one person who loved us enough to create the world. He makes it seem totally possible that God would create such pain and leave us stranded in our fear. But we know in our hearts that this is not true. Fear is not from God, courage is. Hate is not from God, love is. But most importantly, loneliness is not from God, companionship is. We cannot let ourselves believe that the negative aspects of our world are from God because the creator of this world does not want to see us suffer. He wants to see us thrive and love one another.
So why is it so easy for us, as humans, to listen and to believe such obvious lies? Because the entire idea of faith is believing without seeing. Our faith is not always strong, and we are all so accustomed to having proof or evidence to believe something, that faith is a difficult concept for humankind to fully embrace. It is in these moments of needing proof or these moments of doubt that the devil sneaks in and tries to shake us.
I don’t know who it was who decided to publicly announce that God was getting back at humankind by developing a deadly pandemic that has removed our sense of normalcy or caused so much pain. But I do know that what he said wasn’t true; it was simply the false advice of a being who wants us to feel alone and empty.
It is our job to know that the thoughts that God has abandoned us in our time of need are just not true. He did not create us for pain, nor did he manifest that for us. Rather, it is the lies of the deceiver who wants us to feel isolated and alone in our fear.
Ardyn Townzen is a junior at Creighton University in Omaha. St. Stephen Church in Bentonville is her home parish.
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