Fear and Faith

Fear and Faith

Jessica Lamprecht

returning to faith

I was gripped by terror. The sign next to my foot, marking 10 feet of water below me, made me feel like I might die. My brain screamed at me to not jump into the pool, but I didn’t want to be known as the girl who was too scared to jump into the pool at swim class. On the other hand, I didn’t want to repeat my near-death experience of my last jump in the pool. As I stared at the clear water, I remembered that this time, I knew how to swim, so I swallowed my fear and jumped.

And I didn’t drown.

I was ten when I took that first leap of faith and jumped into a pool after my near-death experience when I was 4 years old. Taking that jump after waiting 6 years in fear taught me about the relationship between my fear and my faith which helped me in my decisions throughout my teen and early adult years. I learned that sometimes we have to let our fear motivate us to have faith.

When I figured out my fear motivated me to have faith, it seemed like a contradiction. I always thought the definition of faith was believing and trusting in things we cannot see. Others around me said because I believed I shouldn’t fear. I was under the impression that being filled with fear meant I lacked faith in God and faith in myself.

However, I know now that the relationship between faith and fear is different for me. I can believe and trust while still being afraid. The fear of the unknown and unseen will always be a part of who I am, but I find comfort in my faith because I know even if I am afraid of what might happen next, my faith in God and the people around me is stronger than my fear.

I have learned to always let my faith become stronger than my fear, just like when I jumped into that pool when I was 10. I allowed faith to be stronger than fear each time I moved to new schools and had to be brave enough to make new friends. My faith overcame my fear of what would happen when I left my fragile, broken family to pursue my education. Faith beat my fear when I flew to Mexico City to learn Spanish I was nineteen. Faith conquered fear when I decided to continue college when I only had $4 in my bank account and I didn’t know where more money was going to come from.

Many of my major life decisions started with fear, but having faith gave me the courage to make the jump anyway. And if I had believed the idea that I only had faith if I wasn’t afraid, I’m not sure I would have accomplished anything in my life. I’m grateful every day I let my fear motivate me to have faith.

The next time you are afraid of life decisions set before you, remember that faith in yourself, in God, in people, or in whatever you believe will always overcome fear. Be like my 10-year-old self at the edge of the pool. Remember that you do know how to swim, take a deep breath, and jump.

Purim: A Jewish Celebration of Faith and Courage

Purim: A Jewish Celebration of Faith and Courage

By Linda Clyde, FaithCounts.com Contributor

purim
An Enduring Story of Faith

Nearly 2,500 years ago, in the middle of two million square miles of the Persian Empire, in the city of Shushan, there lived an orphan, a beautiful Jewish girl named Hadassah, though she is better known by her Persian name, Esther.

Esther’s story of faith and courage happened thousands of years ago, but it lives on today because people are still inspired by her faith and courage.

As the Bible story goes, Ahasuerus, the king of Persia became angry with his wife Vashti for disobedience. He began looking for a new wife from the young virgins of his empire. Esther was brought before him and he liked what he saw. Soon she was chosen to replace Vashti as queen.

At the time, Esther had been raised by her cousin Mordecai, and even after she became queen, he was never far away. He counseled her as often as he could and in the beginning advised her to hide her Jewish identity.

King Ahasuerus appointed an evil man named Haman to the highest position at court and decreed that everyone should bow down to him. Whenever Esther’s cousin Mordecai was in Haman’s presence he refused to show him this respect. Haman resented Mordecai and abused his position of power by sending forth a decree to exterminate the Jews.

Mordecai went to Esther and pleaded with her to approach the king to save their people. Doing so would put her life at risk, but Mordecai believed that God had made her queen so she could save her people. Esther decided that she would go to the king for help, but before doing so, she fasted for three days and told Mordecai to ask their people to do the same.

When the time was right, she did risk her life to approach the king and shared Haman’s evil plans to annihilate her people. The king flew into a rage and sent Haman to be hung on the very gallows the vizier had built to hang Mordecai.

Esther’s Legacy of Faith Lives On

Every year, Jewish people celebrate Esther’s story of faith and courage on a holiday known as Purim. The word “Purim” means “lots” in ancient Persian, because it’s believed that Haman cast lots to choose which day he would massacre the Jews.

Today the holiday is celebrated by exchanging gifts of food, donating to the poor, eating a celebratory meal, public recitations of the entire scroll of Esther, drinking wine, and by wearing masks and costumes.

This annual celebration is an example of the power of a single story of faith to affect millions of people and live on for generations.

Without Action, Faith Is Just a Word

Most of us won’t be asked to risk our lives to save a nation, but our simple acts of faith can inspire and empower others. Even if your story isn’t passed down for 2,500 years, it can be impactful for your loved ones and your posterity—especially if you write it down.

It takes humility and optimism to believe that everything will work out. But more often, like in Esther’s story, it takes action to ensure that it does. Our faith may have the power to move mountains, but if we don’t act on it, we’ll never know what’s possible.

Stories of faith can be found in all cultures, religions, and places. Seeking them out and passing them on promotes courage in the face of adversity, and empowers the human spirit.

Linda Clyde is a believer—because she’s convinced it’s way better than being a doubter. One of her favorite things to do is spread optimism and hope with the power of words.