Most of us have either seen or read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  At one point in the story, Jacob Marley laments to his former partner about the weight of the terrible chains that he has to bear in death, chains forged by the ill deeds he did in life.  He warns Scrooge that he, too, wears such a chain, even though as of yet he cannot feel the weight of its burden.  Many of us, in our lives, wear such chains.  And though they may not be chains resulting from ill deeds, they have a terrible weight to them nonetheless.

The worst, and most easily missed, is that of fear.  It is an adversary that all contend with, and many succumb to.  Fear weights us down with a burden that strangles us, that holds us back, that keeps us from the life we were meant to have.  And whether placed on us by the actions or words of others, or by things of our own doing, the chains of fear in our lives can be debilitating.

Far from being an obvious adversary, fear often manifests itself in many forms as to disguise its true nature.  We see it as insecurity (the fear of not being good enough.)  We see it in worry and anxiety (the fear of what may be or what is to come.)  It rears its ugly head as hopelessness (fear that things will never change) and drives the final blows through despair (fear that hope is forever lost.)  And many others.  But no matter what name it goes by, fear can be distracting at best, and debilitating at worst, sometimes even causing people to try to escape from it through death.

Fear, although masked by different aliases, is probably the most potent tool of the enemy.  Perhaps that is why the most commonly-uttered phrase in the Bible is some form of the phrase, “Fear not.”  The intent of that phrase is a change of focus.  While it is true that some fear is good and healthy (fear of getting burned keeping us from grabbing a hot pan, fear of a snarling dog keeping us away from a house, fear of danger keeping us from walking down a dark alley at night, etc.,) most fear is aimed at keeping us from turning to God, and instead staying intently focused either on what’s going on, or on what may go on in the future.

The cure for that fear is trust.  Trust in the One who holds all of creation and eternity in His hands.  Besides, just like Jesus asked in Matthew 6:27, “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” (cf. Matthew 6:25-34)  Instead, let us follow the advice of Paul, who, in Hebrews 12:1b-2a encourages us to “strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”

By keeping our focus on God, rather than allowing fear to overwhelm us, we will find our strength renewed and our souls able to soar like eagles (Isaiah 40:31)  When we’re not being dragged down by the weight of fear, we’re able to find that flying never felt so good 🙂