When Faith Battles Fear

Doubt Is Not The Opposite of Faith

Research has shown that optimism and belief systems can influence outcomes. Matching students with positive adult role models and facilitating relationships built on trust is a great way to help students create and optimistic mindset.

To that end, Exodus has incorporated a new initiative this year.  Called “Caring Circles,” we’ve opened up time in the daily schedule for students to “be real,” in a safe space with adults that are truly listening and not judging.

No one was completely sure how it would go. Kids can be sensitive about sharing, worried about what their peers might think. Of course, we should have known that God would never waste an opportunity to bring people together and allow them to share what’s important to them while viewing it through a gospel lens, especially kids and teens.

Not long ago, the group broached the subject of loss.  One young girl, who is new, isn’t comfortable sharing out loud, so she often asks her cousin to speak for her. During the discussion about loss she asked her cousin to tell everyone about the time the shelter she and her mom and siblings were living in, caught on fire, uprooting them once again. This broke open the floodgates, and soon the group was sharing all kinds of thoughts about loss, and asking about the role God plays in it.

Thankfully, coordinator Krizia, and a local pastor Kevin Pearce, who volunteers here at Exodus, were both on hand to guide the discussion. Afterward, a twelve-year-old student who we’ve heard is participating in some very risky behavior came up to Krizia  with tears in his eyes, looking to touch base some more.

How Faith Battles Fear

Krizia recently began thinking about the difference between faith and action, and future discussions the group could have on this topic. This led to some research.  Here is a blog post that was very helpful in thinking about how to frame the conversation. It’s a blog post from “In the meantime….” by the Reverand David Lose. He has this to say about the subject of faith versus fear;

“I don’t know about you, but over the years some of my worst actions and decisions have been motivated by fear. Do you know what I mean? Fear has this way of leading you to misperceive both threats and opportunities, of prompting impulsive and sometimes irrational behavior, and of narrowing your vision so it’s difficult to see possibilities. Which is why it’s hard to be wise, prudent, or compassionate when you are afraid.”

Abundant life comes from not through gathering power but through displaying vulnerability, not through accomplishments but through service, and not by collecting powerful friends but by welcoming children.

He adds, “Mark 9 v. 30-37 is a fascinating study of the relationship between fear and faith. Notice that the disciples do not ask Jesus any questions in response to his prediction of his impending crucifixion because they are afraid. And the next thing you know they’re talking about securing their place in the coming kingdom. Fear does that. It both paralyzes you and drives you to look out only for yourself.”

Lose goes on to suggest that it’s important to ask yourself questions about your fears, and look at them with a critical eye of faith. This seems like it would be a valuable thing to explore with our middle school students. We look forward to hearing what they have to say on the subject and learning from them! Here are some possible questions to ask if you are interesting in exploring more about your own fears:

Faith As A Verb

What is the difference between fear and doubt?What fears pursue you during the day and haunt you at night?

What fears pursue you during the day and haunt you at night?

What fears pursue you during the day and haunt you at night?

What worries weigh you down so that it’s difficult to move forward in faith?

Do you have concerns that you don’t know why you’re doing what you’re doing, or that things aren’t going well and it’s your fault?

Do you harbor anxiety about what might come next?

In his article on fear, Lose reminds us that fear has a way of sneaking into our very being and robbing us of the abundant life Jesus came both to announce and to share. We need to remember that perfect love drives out fear ( 1 John 4:18), a thing which strips our lives of peace, pleasure, and joy. Fear makes it difficult to be a wise steward of the present moment and resources God has entrusted us with, and needs to be banished from our thoughts.

If we can get ahold of this, how what kind of vessels would we become? And, how powerful will our students become if they learn how to do this early on in life?

Part of this post was originally published by “…In the meantime” at davidlose.net

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