There is nothing to fear but fear itself. In the cold grip of the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared these words at his Presidential Inaugural Address of 1933. In this speech, he spoke of a very real, though intangible, enemy of the United States—the fear of fear. And then he laid out how such fear was strangling the very soul of the nation. Roosevelt understood that fear of the unknown can paralyze people from realizing their dreams of a better future. Even today, regardless our fears, the outcome of inactivity remains the same—death of our dreams and sickness in our souls.
Fear and the Life of the Soul
Biblically speaking, the human soul refers to a spiritual inner life resident in every living person (Genesis 2:7). The health of our soul is connected to the attainment of our dreams because our dreams are birthed and nurtured by the distinctive passions and values intrinsic to this inner life. Hence, if we become alienated from our souls we become alienated from our dreams. Fear, as we shall see, is the most common cause for such alienation.
While we may feel it’s safer to ignore our fears than face them, to do so is to actually encourage their growth. Thus, fear grows best in the dark, for that’s where its shadowy image casts its most sinister pose. So, the solution is to face our fears and finally see them for what they really are. Yet, for the Christian, such honesty and courage are merely prerequisites for what’s needed most in our fight against fear—prayer.
Fear and Prayer
Through prayer, we learn how to face our fears in the presence of God. And when we do, fear literally loses its grip because divine peace is gained in its stead (Philippians 4:6-8). However, even though such a life of prayer takes much time and discipline to develop, we won’t be disappointed. For the reward is nothing less than the resurrection of dreams we thought long dead.
Healthy Souls dream again
Despite popular notions to the contrary, it’s significant that Scripture does not see the soul as merely an immaterial entity disconnected from our physical selves. The Hebrew understanding of peace (shalom) means wholeness. Hence, when, through prayer, we discover how to exchange our fears with God’s peace, we actually bolster the life of our soul. Therefore, prayer guards us from fear and helps integrate our “inner” and “outer” lives. In doing so, we’re empowered to be more in tune with the God-given dreams already planted deep in our souls! So yes, for dreams to be born fears must certainly be faced. Next week, we talk more about how fear stifles our dreams and limits our soul.
What Do You Think?
Can you think of dreams you’ve ignored because of obstacles you feared? What are these dreams?
♦ To see the poem this post is based on, click here.