“Lord, save us! We are perishing!”

There is an antidote to fear, and it’s faith, as we learn in Matthew 8:23-27. It’s a good lesson as many in America celebrate Independence Day.

As Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him.
Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea,
so that the boat was being swamped by waves;
but he was asleep.
They came and woke him, saying,
“Lord, save us! We are perishing!”
He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?”
Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea,
and there was great calm.
The men were amazed and said, “What sort of man is this,
whom even the winds and the sea obey?”

On this American Independence Day, this Fourth of July by its other name, this may be a very suitable passage of the Gospels for reflection. America is very deeply divided politically. There are ominous signs on the horizon for where the country is headed. The darkness at the end of the tunnel, to mix metaphors, reaches beyond America’s shores as other countries reflect on the nation’s leadership and the direction it appears to be taking not only for America but for the world. Many in America and, indeed, the world are crying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” If they are praying.

Jesus would admonish them with, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Not because they have nothing to fear, but because you have it within you to do something. Jesus teaches us that we have the power of prayer to the Father, which if we ask in Jesus’ name the Father will answer.

America has many issues before it which vex its people. Income inequality. Homelessness. Joblessness. Health care access and affordability. Housing access and affordability. Climate change. Voting rights. Civil rights. Minority rights. Sexual orientation rights. Pay equity. A living wage. Minimum wage. Pro-life versus Pro-choice. Environmental protection. Vaccination rights. Increasing road rage. Civility on social media and on the streets. Terrorism from abroad and from within. Immigration policy. The list goes on and on. And they all create fear in the citizenry. Again, Jesus would admonish them that they have the power of prayer to the Father in Jesus’ name.

By his example, Jesus also teaches us that we can do more than pray. We can DO. Jesus didn’t just pray to heal people, he touched them and healed them himself. He didn’t just pray to calm the seas, he “rebuked the winds and the sea” creating a great calm. He took action in addition to praying. And Jesus tells us elsewhere in the Gospels that with strong faith we can move mountains. It is your faith that healed you.

So Jesus’ lesson for Americans celebrating Independence Day this day is that we should reject fear and do two things: Pray to the Father in Jesus’ name for help and take proactive steps to solve the problems.

From a psychological perspective, feeling in control of a situation helps stave off fear. Taking action helps give us a feeling of being in more control. And praying should be a part of that process, which gives us hope and confidence.

When you feel overwhelmed or under assault, don’t go into flight mode, go into fight mode. Heed Jesus’ words. “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Then pray and take action. Fear is our worst enemy, but we don’t have to let it win.

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