President Bush held a moving press conference in the East Room of the White House last week. It was the first prime-time news conference of his presidency and was occasioned by the need to calm fears in the wake of Sept.11.
News sources have reported a dramatic increase in the sale of medicines for anxiety and depression since the 9/11 assaults. Drugs that help people sleep are also in much higher demand. People are afraid. And fear takes its own toll.
Fear diminishes productive energy. It muddles our rational powers. It makes the simplest decisions difficult. It interrupts not only sleep but relationships as well. It can cause debilitating attacks of personal anxiety and weaken the bodys immune system. It creates fertile soil for national paranoia and panic.
President Bush asked us to face down our fears and get on with our lives. While acknowledging we are under threat, he asked us to go to work, continue buying goods and services, maintain vigilance, and hug the people we love.
In addition to heeding his counsel, I would also urge people of faith to read Biblical texts such as Psalm 56 and Psalm 91. And seize this comforting promise to ancient believers as your own word of encouragement from the Lord:
Do not fear, for I am with you,
do not be afraid, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand...
For I, the Lord your God,
hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, Do not fear,
I will help you. (Isaiah 41:10,13 NRSV)
If the point of terrorism is to inspire fear, now is the time for each of us to display a degree of personal courage. If its point is to make us grope about in darkness, today is your opportunity to shine a ray of light onto someones path.
If courage is fear that has said its prayers, perhaps this can be our prayer for today: Heavenly Father, we admit our fears and come to you as the One who alone is sufficient to give us victory over our enemies, our anxieties, and our unholy passions. Lord Jesus, in whose name we make our plea, we recall your agony in Gethsemane and confess our fears to you in the faith that you understand them and have the power to give us mastery over them. Amen.
© 2001, Rubel Shelly. Used by permission. From Rubel Shelly's "FAX of Life" printed each Tuesday. See Faith Matters for previous issues of the "FAX of Life."
Title: "Opportunity for Courage"
Author: Rubel Shelly
Publication Date: October 16, 2001