Silencing Our Fears
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” —John 14:27
In a world wrought with unease, fear is loud. And after observing the fleeting conditions of our society, it makes sense that it would be. Every corner we turn, there always seems to be a new concern to fix our focus on and never a shortage of worry to entertain. Fear is also a partner to deceit. We give one lie a listen and suddenly it feels like we're facing a lion. But what causes fear to hold so much force? In one light, the source of fear’s unruly power is not its logic but its volume. If fear cannot thrive off reason, it aims to grab our attention, feeding off of our reactions with an unapologetic vengeance. Fear often succeeds in masking itself through a rational voice, one that makes us feel like we would be foolish to listen to any other sound or influence—no matter how far away it drifts from the truth. When the volume of our fears is amped up to full blast, it can feel near impossible to find the mute button inside of our heads, our hearts.
One remedy to this? Let us return to the moment when Jesus was preparing to leave earth and return to heaven. It was here that he promised a solution so powerful that it had the ability to silence all fear storming his disciples’ way. He would leave them the holy gift of his peace. When the departing of Christ made their hearts tremble, Jesus reassured his followers that although he would no longer be walking alongside them in the flesh, he would never be absent. Indeed, this was the perfect time for the Holy Spirit to flood in and bring comfort as Christ ascended to his rightful throne. He permanently plants himself inside the hearts of all of humanity, providing divine tranquility in the most unsettling of trials. Though his body was leaving, Jesus was staying; unseen, he was just as close if not closer, hushing the havoc that lay hidden in their very souls. What does that mean for us today? The gift of the Spirit was not just given to aid Jesus’s followers in the past. It has been fervently outpouring peace upon God’s people to this present age, revealing God’s unseen company in the most timeless way. Today and every day, we have the freedom to live in harmony with a Helper who not only wants to comfort us but commune with us too. When we are at true peace in Christ, there is no place for fear to take up permanent residence.
By ruminating on this promise, then, we are reminded of God’s presence which invites an endless supply of unparalleled peace. If God’s presence is peace, and peace abounds in God’s presence, how good is it to know that we can lean into this divine protection when fear arises? In truth, the gift Jesus offers in John 14:27 is much more than that. This peace is Shalom, centering the entirety of our lives on our Creator. An ever-present calm that neither runs out nor fails to consistently soothe us. This is a peace that surpasses all mortal comprehension, equally available to everyone who calls upon it.
Meanwhile, the peace of the world around us may seem enticing but remains unreliable. Lesser visions of peace know only how to offer provisional satisfaction, shallow and momentary contentment that leave our hearts feeling even more hollow than they began. We are used to a transitory sort of peace and comfort—here for a season, gone the next. Peacefulness of this kind can end up intermingling with fear as we anticipate the other shoe dropping. We are prone to lend an ear to whispers of worry. Sometimes all we can hear is fear. To this, we acknowledge that it is natural to feel afraid. God knew this would be the case for humanity and understood how pervasive it would be within our lives. This is why Jesus encourages his disciples in John 16:33 when he says, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Taking heart means to lean into our Creator, to know that the darkness of this life has no hold over us, and therefore, neither does fear. When fear seems to be conquering our world, let us remember that Christ overcame the entire world and actively works for its restoration. The Prince of Peace himself is present in the thick of every crisis we endure, even when fear is roaring on all sides. What would it look like for us to allow the stillness of God’s presence to shock all fear into silence? Let us lean on the peace that we’ve been given. Amen.
Words: Alexis Ragan
Images: Marek Piwnicki