Choosing Faith over Fear: by Amanda Schaller

posted Feb 27, 2013, 8:03 PM by Cameron Hubanks   [ updated Aug 8, 2013, 2:24 PM ]
        “To have empty faith is to proclaim a belief in God but to still be anxious and fearful and constantly petitioning God on your own behalf.  Empty faith is not really faith at all, because it’s driven by fear.  And to be fearful is to fly in the face of all that faith implies.”  In moments of fear, I don’t consciously abandon my faith that God exists.   But am I stressed and scared that things aren’t working out?  Absolutely, and this is the very paradox Joe Caruso calls our attention to in the above quote from The Power of Losing Control.
So what is faith, and what does it look like?  I like to think of faith as the unconditional knowing that we’re being taken care of by a power greater than ourselves.  Faith requires us to let go.  The Bible says in Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

As I write, I find myself struggling with whether I’m actually worthy to be speaking on this subject.  Who am I to talk about empty faith when it seems I need to remind myself to trust on a daily (or perhaps more honestly, hourly!) basis that God has a purpose for me and it is all going according to plan?  I find it especially easy to be trapped by fearful thoughts when patience is involved.  Trust that I’ll eventually find what I’m looking for, even if it takes years?  Or never happens at all?  God, I’m all about trusting you if it means you’ll be answering my prayers by, say, next week.  Or maybe tomorrow.

It can be tempting to all of us to pray for something specific and, as proof of the power of prayer, expect our requests to be heeded exactly the way we ask.   But how can we appreciate what God is trying to give us if we’ve already decided for ourselves what we need the most?  The fear that we won’t get what we most desire or that everything we’ve worked for will crumble without our constant vigilance can blind us from all the joys right in front of us.
Caruso goes on to say that “Fear distorts the way we see the world, which means we might be looking at something that appears attractive without recognizing its inherent dangers - or just as bad, we could be looking at the very answer to all of our problems yet be unable to see it for what it is.  In other words, we’d literally be blinded by fear.”  It’s easy to praise God and feel universally loved when times are good.  During enduring times of trial, however, it can be an uphill battle.  Fear can block our connection to God and cause us to miss the guidance from above.  

What can we do about this?  The beauty is that fear cannot exist in the presence of love.  As we were so movingly reminded by our Sunday School, “Where there is love, there is God.”  We can take our moments of fear and turn them into an opportunity to practice letting go and giving our worries to our Creator.  We can notice what it is we are anxious about and consider if a change is needed to be more present.

Through life’s challenges and our efforts to trust, we can reach new depths to our relationship to God, our faith, and ourselves.

Amanda is a young adult who has been a lifelong member of Zwingli UCC-Paoli.  Amanda graduated from UW Plateville and is currently living in the Paoli area.