Faith, Fear, Folly, Fatalism
What exactly is faith? Let us define what faith is not. Faith is neither fear, folly nor fatalism.
- Fear is something all of us have, and that is natural. Here, I am dealing with the kind of fear that overwhelms our hearts and chains us in worry. It obscures our view of God. All spiritual convictions we have fade into the background. In fact, when ruled by fear, we become virtually indistinguishable from an atheist. Such fear could cause us to become paralyzed. Or we make frantic choices marked by our anxiety and worries; fear, as described here, is not faith.
- Folly means to be dismissive concerning the reality we are faced with. This could come from pure ignorance. Or it could arise from spiritual presumption, where we rely on empty religious mantras or cliches. This could create in some a false sense of invincibility and exemption. Folly causes us to take on a cavalier or superior attitude towards others’ worries. We become complacently passive when responsible action is needed.
- Fatalism is marked by a sense of futility, defeatism and hopelessness. This can arise from utter dismay over the situation. It can also appear spiritual, flowing out of our assumptions concerning the end times or divine judgment. Whichever it is, fatalism deadens our hearts. We become resigned, cynical or stoic, unable to resonate with the tender heart of God toward human suffering. We lose all expectation of divine intervention. That’s also not faith.
If faith is not like either fear, folly or fatalism, what is it like?
Unlike fear that imprisons and paralyzes, faith liberates. We recognize that we may have fear. But, by faith, we refuse to be ruled by fear. This happens when, day by day, we fix our gaze on Him, a good and all-powerful God who is far above any crisis. We learn to put our confidence in Him. As that confidence grows in our hearts, we develop a steadfast spirit and a rested soul.
Unlike folly, faith is never detached from reality. In fact, faith frees us to face reality squarely. That enables us to live with a sense of balance. We respond to the situation with prudence, circumspection and social responsibility. That’s not to suggest that faith is only preoccupied by such realities. Faith means we have a bifocal vision of sorts, seeing earthly reality clearly, and also grasping ultimate realities concerning God’s character, God’s purposes, God’s resources.
Unlike fatalism which tells us there is nothing we can do, faith leads us to act in God-directed ways. This means active pursuit, especially of what is on the tender heart of God. That includes frontline healthcare workers in need of our support, those whose livelihoods are badly affected amid the crisis of a pandemic like the COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020, and the weak and vulnerable. Faith demands that we engage in earnest and expectant intercession for these. It also means that we find practical ways to advance their well-being. This could be through something as simple as choosing where to eat, maybe patronizing hard-hit small businesses most in need of our support.
So, unlike fear, folly or fatalism, faith means peacefulness of the soul on one hand, and responsible action on the other. It means steadfastness of the heart and service to others. It means to be confident in God and to be concerned for people around us, especially the poor, weak and vulnerable. We look upwards, and also look outwards.
May we truly learn to walk by faith. And by faith, may we as representatives of Christ distinguish ourselves from the world at times of crisis, and so serve as His salt and light to our world.
Please find a testimony of true faith in crisis during the Wuhan COVID-19 pandemic HERE.
– Shared by anonymous