3 Ways to Stop Fearing and Start Trusting

“Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

My favorite Scripture verse opens this Sunday’s Gospel. It is both comforting and challenging at the same time. I can see the warmth in Jesus’ eyes, his human heart full of real love for the disciples gathered around him. He can read their hearts, he knows their futures, and he understands how difficult it is to really believe those words.

I try, Jesus. And some days it’s easy. When life is happy and everyone likes me, when a paycheck is constant and I am healthy, when the future looks bright and the sun is shining. I can feel the serenity of being a little sheep in your arms. 

Other times, I can’t feel you at all. The stresses of life are real and I have legitimate human needs that aren’t being met. There are bills to pay, or a sickness that doesn’t have answers, or gossip or a feud that hurts and threatens. I try, Jesus. But trust is hard. Anxiety threatens to swallow me.

Jesus is not dismissing the human needs that require our attention and work or telling us to throw caution to the wind. He is also not saying life will be easy if we are part of his flock.

Rather, he’s giving us a key to turning our fear into trust.

Focus on the Kingdom

Look at the preceding verses in Luke’s Gospel (not included in this Sunday’s reading):

“If God so clothes the grass in the field that grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? As for you, do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not worry anymore. All the nations of the world seek for these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these other things will be given you besides” (Luke 12:28-31).

Is Jesus telling us to quit our jobs, stop making grocery lists, and just wait for everything to be handed to us? I wish it was that easy.

Rather, he is telling us to stop being anxious about the things that ultimately do not matter. Surrender those things. Focus on what matters: the kingdom. How am I living today? How am I treating my family and my neighbor? Am I living for heaven?

Yes, I might be too poor to have steak. I might actually go to bed hungry. What actually matters? The kingdom. Did I love my neighbor today?

I might be facing a crippling cross. A sickness, unemployment, or divorce. What matters? How did I choose to live for the kingdom today? How did I love the unloveable? Did I see my cross through the lens of eternity?

Am I so focused on the needs of this world, that it is taking my focus off the kingdom? Focusing on this life, yes, there is plenty to give you anxiety. But Jesus wants to free you from that.

It’s All About Perspective

What truly matters? Eternity. Every decision I make: Does it put me closer or farther from God?

“For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be” (Luke 12:34). This is the key to fearless living. It is not that life will be easy and cross-free. In fact, it means the opposite. It means I’m picking up my cross and walking with Jesus. But who needs to be anxious when Jesus is next to you?

“Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.”

Do not be afraid. You have a loving Father who sees you. He knows your heart, he knows your future, and he understands how difficult it is to really believe these words. But he loves you, and he wants you with him for all eternity. He wants to give you the kingdom! “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you…plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope” (Jer 29:11). Do we really believe this?

You are part of the flock. That means you have been marked by the Good Shepherd. You are his. He loves you and wants you to stay in the flock. He wants to care for you, he wants to feed you, he wants to guide you. By yourself, you’re food for wolves. But stay in the flock, trust the Shepherd, and surrender.

Fearless Living Ain’t Easy

It is easier to type these words than practice them. It is easy to preach this to you than to live the message. But here are three ways we can all get better at not being anxious and trusting that the Father wants to give us the kingdom:

  1. The Surrender Novena. This powerful, short novena packs a punch, let me tell you. It is remarkably freeing to repeat again and again, O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything! Just be prepared to actually surrender! I have never prayed this novena without being tested a bit throughout the nine days. After all, it is easy to believe we have a certain virtue when we don’t need to practice it. It is when life gets hard that our virtue is tested. You can find the text of the novena here, but I highly recommend downloading the free Catholic prayer app, Amen, and praying along with the novena that way (Day One here, as an example).
  2. Memento Mori. I have written about this several times before, but the perspective required to focus on the kingdom is precisely this: memento mori. Remember that you are going to die. Someday, I will face my Father at the end of my life, and the only thing that will matter is: did I love? So every day, I must make decisions with that in mind. That is the perspective of choosing to place my heart in heavenly rather than in earthly things.
  3. Ask. You have a loving Father who knows your needs, but he also wants to hear them. Do you want steak for dinner? It is not wrong to ask for it, but then we accept the Father’s answer, whatever it may be. Do you want that cross lifted? Do you want that relationship reconciled? Are you looking for a new job or need a raise? Ask. Ultimately, God wants to give you whatever will get you closer to the kingdom. He wants to give you whatever is best for your soul. Maybe physical healing is best. Or maybe continuing to suffer to make reparation for your sins and the sins of the world is best. Ask, and then thank God for the answer, whatever it may be. God is your loving Father, and wants to give you good gifts. Sometimes we just fail to ask.

“Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.”

Photo: Gemma Evans on Unsplash

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