Fear is something that seems to come a little too naturally to me. Fear of failure. Fear of the unknown. Fear of being alone. Fear of loss. In this season of Advent, we are so focused on preparing for Christmas, yet I oftentimes find myself dwelling in this fear as the nights seem too long and the days too short.
Christmas is just a few weeks away. I’m supposed to be happy, excited, and joyful. Now don’t get me wrong, Christmas music can still cheer me up from time to time. I love the get-togethers and gift exchanges that are getting so close, but the winter can be hard. The holidays have a tendency to remind us of what we are missing, or even worse, who we are missing.
The last two years have been a real challenge. Whether you’ve lost loved ones, missed out on experiences, or simply have spent a lot of time being afraid, many of us have come to realize how good we had it before Covid.
In the Gospel today we hear “The Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force.” That violence seems so real and even literal at times. My family is from a place north of Detroit called Oxford, Michigan. All my Aunts and Uncles went to school there. My parents met there. My uncle is the varsity basketball coach there. My brother teaches at Clarkston about 10 minutes from there. So, when I heard of the tragedy experienced in Oxford last week through horrible violence, fear set in. Stress, anxiety, and helplessness took hold. I think about my 5-year-old and 6-year-old children. The fear of them experiencing an unimaginably horrible situation like that seems too real. And it’s hard.
Today’s First Reading from Isaiah quickly says do not be afraid (which usually makes me think about my fear, and thus be more afraid). Fortunately, Isaiah spends much more time focusing on why we shouldn’t be afraid. Simply because God can do anything.
I remind myself that God can do anything and God can do everything. It is important for me to remember that I can’t do anything, and most importantly I can’t do everything. We all experience stress, anxiety, trauma, and tragedy in many different ways. As much as I wish I could lift the heartache from everyone affected by the tragedy in Oxford, I can’t. As much as I wish I could ensure tragedies like this would never happen again, I can’t.
I’ve found in my life that when I trust in the Lord, rejoice in the Lord, and let the Lord help me, that is when the stress and anxiety lessen or even disappear. The loneliness, the trauma and the fear will still find ways to creep in, but with God they never take hold.
Whether it’s the little things or the big things, the tragedies or annoyances that consume you, remember that God is with us as we experience our hardships and that we can do anything with him on our side.
Dave Laidlaw spent 6 years working in youth ministry and has spent the last 6 years serving parishes across the country with different technical and administrative issues they have. He is the Founder of Antioch.Solutions. Antioch.Solutions is a company that helps Catholic leaders learn new skills to spread the good news and enhance their ministries. Along with the Church, Dave loves his family, good coffee, sports, history, Star Wars, and being outside. You can find more about Dave at www.Antioch.Solutions
Feature Image Credit: Aaron Burden, https://unsplash.com/photos/lPCu8HnGU2E