We think of fear as an opposite of faith or trust. If I am without trust, and the security it brings, I fear. But how does one have trust? How does one come to believe that someone is trustworthy?
This shows that when we are in times of trouble, anxiety and fear (not the little ones, but the soul-level, existential fear), we have to do something else than say, “I just have to trust more.” Good thing, too, because do you notice how impossible it is to make yourself trust? There is one antidote to fear from which all other remedies draw their power – love.
That might be an annoyingly typical answer (“Yeah, yeah, the answer is always love…”), but think of how little we perceive that fear is the opposite of love. We usually think fear is the time to cling to something, to hold fast to the mast. But first and foremost it is the time to let go and let something cling to us. The greatest remedy to fear is not any kind of white-knuckling; it is not in trying to do anything harder or better (“I just have to trust more, I have to trust more…”) – that’s the natural, but barren, response to fear. Fear tries to back us into a corner by whispering, “Do more. Do more. It’s not working. Do more…”
The adequate response to fear is sitting in front of the Lord like a child with flushed cheeks and welled-up eyes – exhausted and desperate – in full admission of your inability to deal with your fear, saying, “My God, I am scared. Here I am. Love me.” Then, in stillness and hope – wait. Perhaps it will take some time (prayer is not a magic potion). But, this kind of humble heart that asks for the Lord to come and deliver the goods ravishes the heart of the Father that He is. It is there that God cracks His knuckles and says, “Here I come!”
It is from knowing someone’s love for you that trust arises. Trust is the fruit of the indwelling of love into a person’s heart, mind and soul. Fear is quenched when we perceive the gaze of love, when we find ourselves as lovers, when we behold what we love (and what we love is love!).
So when the black sun looms, we must retreat to our weakness, where we have nothing, and say, “Love me like you do.”
“Love me.” This is the heart of prayer. This is the heart of a disciple’s life. This is surrender. This is what casts out fear. Give it a wholehearted try – it works.