Matthew 8: 23-27
Tomorrow, Americans celebrate Independence Day, commemorating the courage of a band of leaders from the original 13 colonies who risked their lives by signing a document the occupying British would regard as unmistakably treasonous. Despite the threat of their lands being taken, their families imprisoned, and their own lives cut short, still, they took pen in hand and added their name to the list of those whose desire for freedom overcame that choking fear.
Their experience demonstrates the unique relationship between fear, faith, and freedom also experienced by the apostles on that stormy sea (and by most of us every day). It takes faith to overcome the fear that impedes our path to freedom, but that faith can be hard to come by, especially if fear has taken hold of our hearts and dimmed our view of the future.
Father Hesburgh once wrote about faith: “In the broader world of man’s total voyage through time to eternity, faith is not only a gracious companion but an essential guide.” While it can be useful (it’s appropriate to fear a tiger lose in the neighborhood), fear is neither gracious nor an essential guide. Instead, fear obscures the blessings God has for us and slows our progress toward fulfillment.
If you struggle with fear today, be it fear for the wellbeing of your family, the health of your business, or the future of our country, remember that we can declare independence from fear in the name of our advocate: Jesus himself. Our release from the bonds of fear won’t be instantaneous because the roots of fear extend deep into our lives. However, Jesus is on this boat, on the journey of life with us, and he does respond to our calls. When we cry out to Him in faith and prayer, he will respond. His answer may not come in our desired timeframe or align with our precise plan, but it will carry the power of an advocate powerful enough to calm the winds and sea on the way to defeating death itself.
A life on the other side of fear, dwelling in faith, is true freedom.
Independence Day Prayer
God of all nations and Father of the human family, we give thanks for the blessings we enjoy in the United States of America, especially our freedom. We ask for your protection and guidance for public servants and all of those who work for justice and peace in this nation and around the world. Heal us from our differences and unite us, O Lord, with a commitment to achieve liberty and justice for all people, especially those who are most vulnerable. Amen.