The late great Pope John Paul II was known for saying, “Be Not Afraid.” He used these words in his first address as Pope immediately after his installation. If you are familiar with the history of his life, these words are indeed powerful.
Karol Wojtila was man who had every reason to be afraid. He watched his country be invaded by the Nazis in WW II. After their defeat he lived under Communist oppression. He witnessed friends killed and captured and knew the same fate could happen to him. Yet his faith in God gave him the strength to continue to face each day anew hoping for a better life for his countrymen and himself.
Every person is burdened with difficulties. Some have physical problems, others have financial worries and still others are burdened emotionally. It is not at all unusual for people to have a combination of the above. When you’re facing pain or even death, the loss of your home or the loss of a loved one, how can you not be afraid?
Be Not Afraid? Yeah Right ! Are you kidding?
Fear is an emotion that is designed to keep us safe from harm. They say in a war only insane people are not afraid. Life even outside a shooting war can resemble a war, indeed for those who read and believe in Holy Scripture, we acknowledge that there is a war going on all around us that is more fearsome than any battle that has ever been fought on the earth. It is a Spiritual War between Satan and his Demons and God and His Angels.
God wants all of us to spend eternity with him and in the final analysis the choice is ours where we end up. Satan can only hurt God by tricking us to choose to reject God and the life he has planned for us. Satan is defeated but he is still on the battlefield, this is sort of like a resistance movement that is left over after the major fighting is done. And like a resistance movement, he can cause great harm and sorrow.
Be Not Afraid!
As a husband and a father, I fear for the souls of my wife and children as well as my friends and myself. I also hope for a good landing for the souls of people I do not know. But the reality is that Hell does exist and it is not a Ghost Town. It is populated with Satan and his Demons as well as the souls of people who chose to reject God. God loves everyone so much that He wants only what is good for you BUT he will not force himself on you. If you decide to reject him by the choices you make up to the time of your death, God will respect your choice. If this sounds harsh consider this, if during your life you could not abide to live by God’s rules, how will you abide by them for an eternity. It is like having a roommate at college you can’t stand for four years, then after college you decide to share a house with them. You know you would not do that. Only in this case, the feelings of discomfort are amplified to the nth degree to the point where your soul prefers hell to an eternity with God even though hell is worse than you imagine.
Be Not Afraid.
I only know what I read and have been taught and what I have come to believe after time spent in prayer. I believe heaven is populated with persons of all faiths and even persons of no faith who still followed the second Greatest Commandment – Do Unto Others As You Would Have Others Do Unto You! For those who disagree with me on this and ask how can this be, my response is, With God All Things Are Possible!
Each day as I arise, I try to remember to say, “Thank You God for another day.” I do not go about my day thinking constantly about the Four Last Things – Death, Judgement, Heaven or Hell, but rather I look at my To Do list and try to figure out how the heck am I going to get it all done? I try to make sure I spend time talking to all my kids, but this is not always possible. With the older adult kids I often keep up with them thanks to Facebook. I have to admit that I do worry about them at times, but I find that spending time with them alleviates the worry. I and my wife have lived our lives the best we can to make time for our kids and we continue to do so. In the process we have made a set of memories that we often revisit when we have our gabfests around the kitchen table. The memories span times from school sports to Martial Arts classes, to Boy Scouts to Community Theater we did together, as well as Family Reunions and Holidays. All of these are only a portion of our journey together through life. They have made us a stronger family. We are there for each other when the situation calls for it. It is one less thing to worry about. It also opens up opportunities to talk about really serious matters from time to time. It often takes the form of a threat, “You darn well better end up in heaven.” It’s a reminder especially to my adult kids that they are expected to make the right decisions. Then my wife and I storm heaven with prayers asking for God’s grace for them.
Be Not Afraid!
If I had faith, truly had faith, perhaps I would not fear. I can say I am like the person who said, “I believe, help my unbelief.” I wake up each day and rejoin the battle. Some days I can truly say, “Good Morning, God!”
But other days it’s more like, “Good God, it’s morning!”
May you win all your daily battles and some day find rest with all your family and friends.
Dennis P. McGeehan