Fear has a funny way of “freezing time,” making us feel like we are helpless, like we cannot move. It attacks our trust in God and breaks it down bit by bit until we lose our ability to be vulnerable with him.
The devil inserts himself into our minds, trying to hide all the times when God revealed himself in the past so that we start to doubt his dependability. Why? Because the devil knows that God is consistent, and he knows that in times where the future is unknown, our first instinct is to find something to hold onto. If we are not able to cling to God in the present, we cling to the past, and that is where the devil does his work.
At the beginning of my second semester of college, I felt like my life was going great. I had found a friend group who was grounded in faith and family who genuinely helped me be a better version of myself. I had healed and matured from a difficult situation in the first semester, and my faith life was seemingly strong. However, as I became busier with school, friendships and travel, my faith life began to take a back seat.
My quiet time with God was limited, and instead the majority of my prayer time became the one hour on Sunday that I attended Mass. My trust in God became shaky as old wounds opened up, insecurities sprouted and the future that I hoped for started to feel out of reach.
When the devil tried to tell me that God was not present, and the future that I had dreamed of was never going to happen, I gave him my ear and began to worry that what he was saying was true. He whispered (loudly) that nothing in the future would be better than where I had been in the past. An old anxiety began to flood my consciousness. A part of me would tell myself to look back on all the times that I had been in various trials and see how God had helped me through them. He was there in the midst, just as he promised.
Even if the outcome was different from what I had wanted, his goodness and his love were present there. But then, the devil would tell me that this time was different. God was not going to help me again because this time, I was where I was because I had made a decision that had messed up God’s plan, and it was too late to get back on track. I trusted him and doubted God. I knew the devil was trapping me, but I could not figure out how to get out.
I sought out a conversation with a person who had helped me before. I heard something from her that resonated loudly over the noise in my head. “Fear blocks God’s grace.” The reason I could not deny the devil’s lies to me is because I let him back me into a corner of fear.
Who do children cling to when they are scared? A stranger? Someone who has proven time and time again that they are untrustworthy? No, they cling to their parents. To someone who has never abandoned them, someone who would go through heaven and hell for them. I can ask the same question of us.
Who do we cling to when we are scared, when fear is all we can see? The devil? Someone who only tells lies, someone whose sole purpose is to make us scared? No, we cling to God. Someone who has shown his love not only in the good times but also in the bad times. Someone who has actually gone through heaven and hell to save us. Fear has no foothold in our lives when we cling to the one whose love and grace dispels all of the devil’s lies.
St. Teresa of Kolkata once said, “Suffering, pain, sorrow, humiliation, feelings of loneliness are nothing but the kiss of Jesus, a sign that you have come so close that he can kiss you.” When fear is at its worst, and God seems like he is so far away, it is the opposite. God is trying that much harder to get to us, and all we have to do is break down our walls and let him.
“But the Lord is faithful; He will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one” (2 Thessalonians 3:3).
Annie Wendel is a rising sophomore at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Christ the King Church in Little Rock is her home parish.
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