Since A Worrier\’s Guide To The Bible was released, I’ve been doing a lot of speaking about anxiety. As I visit various parishes, I encounter many people who are worried about a variety of things. And I have to admit that some of their problems are monumental. I have also met several individuals who have serious problems, but who are at peace. What gives? How can some people be peaceful even though storms are raging around them.
In his letter to the church at Corinth, St. Paul touches on the key to achieving this kind of peace. It’s something that he knew about first hand and it enabled him to remain calm and peaceful in the midst of many sufferings:
Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
Despite all the suffering that Paul endured, he understood that there was a bigger picture. Looking at that big picture, and not focusing on our problems, can allow us to feel peaceful even though the waves are crashing around us.
So we are always courageous, although we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yet we are courageous, and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord. Therefore, we aspire to please him, whether we are at home or away. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Corinthians 5:6-10)
Mindful of the fact that this life is temporary, St. Paul confidently states that “we walk by faith, not by sight”. Or do we? Whenever we begin to worry about the problems in our lives and lose sight of the fact that our ultimate goal is to reach heaven, we do the opposite of what Paul recommends. So many of us are anxious and miserable precisely because we are not walking by faith. Instead, we are walking by sight. When we do that, we allow the problems we see in our lives to rob us of God’s peace.
So, what’s the answer? As I mention many times in my talks, FAITH is the answer to FEAR! If our faith is strong, our fear will fade away. A strong faith allows us to trust in God and His providence. We know that everything happens for a reason (Romans 8:28) and that everything that happens in our lives can help us to achieve our ultimate destiny – life in heaven! If you’re looking for some Biblical evidence to substantiate my claim, try this on for size:
He got into a boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep. They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm. (Matthew 8:23-27)
Why were they afraid? Because they had little faith! Despite the fact that we many not want to admit it, fear and faith are at two opposite ends of the spectrum. Given that this is the Year of Faith (as declared by our Holy Father), wouldn’t it be great if we could move from FEAR to FAITH? The good news is that we can. Here are some simple, but often overlooked steps to get you started:
1. Pray – We should pray every day for an increase of faith. As with many of God\’s gifts, they are often not granted until we ask. Make sure you ask for the Lord to increase your faith!
2. Read Scripture Daily – If we open up our Bible, we\’ll see many examples of individuals who trusted God even when it didn\’t make sense. Abraham, Moses, Mary, St. Paul and many others trusted in the Lord\’s plan, even though they didn\’t have all the details. We can learn a lot from their example. In addition, reading the Bible allows God to speak to us. His words will not only bring us comfort, but they will give us direction.
3. Study Church Teaching – In this Year of Faith, our Holy Father has encouraged us to study the teachings of the Church. One of the best resources is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Even if we spend only a few minutes each day, we can learn much about our Catholic faith. Aside from the obvious benefit, doing so helps us to understand the incredible depth of what we believe. As we begin to understand more about the Lord and His Church, our faith will grow. We\’ll start to believe that God can (and does) still work miracles in our lives!
4. Receive The Sacraments – One of the best ways to boost your faith is to frequently receive the sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation. You will be flooded with graces that will increase your faith in ways you never thought possible.
5. Step Out In Faith – While this may sound like the craziest of all the steps, it\’s often the most effective. When you say, \”OK Lord, I\’m going to trust you\” and give Him the chance to deliver, you\’ll often be rewarded with in increased faith. Eventually, you\’ll find yourself trusting Him more and more. As a result, you\’ll be able to accomplish great things. So, go ahead…don\’t be afraid to take the first step!
Many of us have gotten so used to living with anxiety that we sometimes forget that there is an answer. As I\’ve discovered, our fears will fade as our faith increases. If you\’re tired of living in fear, try out these steps and see what happens. The only thing you have to lose is your anxiety!
© Gary Zimak. All Rights Reserved.