“On Fear and Peace”
Though in general I’m not a particularly fearful person, I was afraid to come to Honduras. This past June I finished up a year abroad in England, a country with a murder rate of 1.2. For three days I returned to the U.S. to visit with family and friends. The U.S. has a murder rate of 4.8. Then I left to spend the summer in Honduras, which has a murder rate of 91.6. Needless to say, it was a tough transition.
Oxford has a friendly feel to it. It’s so safe that the police don’t even carry firearms. Honduras, on the other hand, comes off as a hostile place. Not a day goes by in which I didn’t see heavy weaponry in the streets. There are armed guards everywhere. I never know who to trust. Extreme precautions are necessary.
My initial fear was understandable, maybe even helpful. However, fear can also be paralyzing. It is one thing to have a healthy dose of fear in order to keep you on your toes, but it is entirely another thing to be so fearful that each day is a struggle. Fortunately, I have not by seriously threatened by the second type of fear.
Here’s why: Romans 5:1. “Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” St. Paul writes. Faith leads to peace with God through Christ. When we are faithful, we are in a good place. St. Augustine prayed to God, “Our heart is restless until it rests in You.” I find Augustine’s declaration to be true. When we find peace in Christ, our hearts can rest. Threatening, hostile fear gives way to healthy, sensible fear. Hope conquers evil and renews us with God’s peace.
Many medieval theologians spoke about death in a positive way because they knew that death would ultimately take them to union with God in the fullest sense. Even St. Paul said, “For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain,” (Phillippians 1:21). Knowing that the joy of Christ will fill our souls even more after we depart from this world gives me the strength that I need to make it through life in Honduras and life in general. For me belief in the afterlife is not a cop out or a reason to ignore the struggles of the world; actually, my hope for the ultimate fulfillment of God’s kingdom fortifies my resolve to make a difference here and now.
Let the peace of Christ transform you! Pray that Jesus will guide you through your fears in order to lead you to Himself!
Your friend in Christ,