“Teach me your way, O Lord,
that I may walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart to revere your name.”
~Psalm 86:11 (NRSV).
Faith, like courage, is not the absence of fear, but the conforming of fear to a useable output. But faith, like courage, has different strengths, and perhaps this way it can be likened to something we can thicken, resembling, perhaps, what it might be like in achieving faith like the proverbial hide on a rhinoceros.
The Nature of Fear
If we’re to grow our faith in any way we have to draw up close to fear, learn about it—how it manifests over us personally, and develop fear-shortening strategies.
In other words, our faith is expanded when we learn how to control and regulate our fear—even using fear as a catapult out of our temptations at despair. Walking in the Lord’s truth is as much a matter as denying our fear, for faith, as anything. It’s about the single-minded heart with no spiritual duplicity in sight... well, that’s the theory.
A useful thing to know about fear is it sits at the opposite end on a continuum to that of faith. This ‘faith-fear continuum’ highlights and pinpoints our overall spiritual circumstance in life.
Fear typically stands off at a distance, yet with the least warning it encroaches and rains on our parade of faith. The world, it seems, changes suddenly as we’re rocked by fear.
The Anatomy of the ‘Thicker’ Faith
Faith, like forgiveness and healing and patience in the godly realm, is inexplicable. How can we really describe the acquisition of increased levels of any of these things, barring an attribution that we’re learning? Certainly we’re trusting.
This is important to acknowledge, for God’s role in the blessing of increasing our faith is by virtue of our obedience, but importantly God’s not obligated to discharge blessing. But as life would have it, God’s nature is consistent in these ways, to the smallest letter.
A thicker threshold of faith is the secret to our eventual success.
It ameliorates fear, but not by feeling less fearful. This is important to understand. We can be gentle of spirit and still highly resilient in faith. Both states can co-exist. Gentility is not to be confused for timidity. And indeed, God wants us still very sensitive to our own needs so we can fulfil them how we need them fulfilled, for ‘God helps those that help themselves,’ as the old adage goes.
A thicker threshold of faith is about learning how to enlarge the safety envelope within our faith so we’re able to hold the dramatic tensions of fear at bay.
This is not solving the fear; it’s learning to accept it, and able to move on in spite of it. Not being in fear of the fearful stimuli, ours and others’ reactions, and our feelings is the key.
Thicker threshold faith gives us this capacity to deal with, and even exploit, our fears. So, here we can know that nothing’s denied, and we’re just merely truthful about how we feel. In this way we quell the fear’s power. Before God and humankind we’re just so much more us, and certainly we have less to hide.
Fear cannot wreak havoc where honesty does battle with it.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.