The Fall of the Sparrow
We are told so many times in the Bible to ''fear not'' that it's obvious God knows how much fear runs through our lives.
In 1974 Ernst Becker won a Pulitzer Prize for his book, The Denial of Death. Becker believed that the number one motivating force in human life is to overcome our fear of death. Death, he wrote, haunts everything we do. Everything we love is threatened with loss. Everything we do is vulnerable to being undone. Every victory faces its own defeat. Everything we know is passing away. Inside your mind, explained Becker, there is a ''rumble of terror that underlies everything'' - even though you try not to hear it.
The Bible includes many verses that tell us not to be afraid, to but the Bible doesn't deny that we face a great many threats. A good example is Psalm 91. There are, cites the Psalmist, terrors that erupt at night, arrows that target us in the day, pestilence that waits for us in darkness, and plague that can afflict us in the light of day.
When two of his disciples asked to be given high places in the Kingdom of God, Jesus answered, ''You don't know what you're asking - can you drink the cup I am about to drink?'' (Matthew 20:20-23). Jesus' own life was under constant threat - the cross loomed over everything he taught and did.
We all drink of the cup of sorrow. How deeply of that cup each of us has to drink is not under our control. Call it a test, or a trial. Name it as persecution or carrying one's cross. Describe it as being down in a dark valley, or wandering in a wilderness, or being alone in the desert. The Bible gives testimony to the reality of hard times, discouragement, suffering, and doubt.
I'm thinking now of a mother I've gotten to know recently whose 22 year old son was killed in Afghanistan in the first weeks of his deployment as an Army Ranger. The death of her son has stripped away her faith in God, her love for her husband, and at times, even ...
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