Grand Rapids Superintendent, Rev. Bill Haggard, engages anxiety with faith and hope.
REV. BILL HAGGARD
Grand Rapids District Superintendent
I was in a conversation the other day with some friends and I don’t remember how we got on the subject, but we started talking about fears. Most of us had one or more of the fairly common types, heights, snakes, enclosed places, and it was interesting to listen and watch the animation that went along with each description to understand the depth of our struggles.
It seems like there is a lot to fear these days. Beyond the phobias I was discussing with my friends, there is a lot of uncertainty around us and that often breeds fear. There are fears related to gun violence and there are fears related to terrorism. There are fears related to international relations and the threats of nuclear confrontation. There are also fears in many of our churches.
We are declining, we are struggling financially, we are not sure what will happen as we move into the 2019 special General Conference, we are not sure what’s next. And in the midst of any and all of these fears it is easy to move to a place of debility. It’s easy to move to a place where our fears rule our actions and we move into a reactive, protective mode and I understand that emotion and desire. We want something safe we want assurance that in the midst of our fears it will be OK.
As people of faith we have that assurance. Faith is not a panacea. It doesn’t wipe out our fear and it doesn’t magically do away with the issues behind our fears. But our faith does enable us to see our fears from a different place, and from a different perspective. Our faith in God who is always working for good, who is the essence of good, and who is acting, both in our world and in us, to bring forward that good in every circumstance and situation, our faith in God enables us to see and move beyond our fears.
Knowing who God is helps us to engage our fears with hope and with purpose knowing that God is working with us to see God’s Kingdom come on earth even as it is in heaven. Faith in God, evidenced so perfectly in Christ Jesus, empowers us to live differently. Not in denial of the situation, not simply believing that God will just somehow fix it all apart from us, but rather knowing that God is with us working for good in the midst of our very real fears and knowing that even if our worst fears are realized it is not the end, but in God there is always a step forward.
Jesus promise put it so well in John 16:33, “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.”