|Faith Over Fear: Overcoming Anxiety during times of Uncertainty|
Faith, Hope and Love are the bedrock to Christian living. 1 Corinthians 13:13 lays down this recipe for living, that has a reassuring simplicity to it in times of certainty. Yet, when we face challenges and the various storms of life, suddenly it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed and full of fear. Anxiety can set in, and Faith, Hope and Love become harder to grasp, harder to hold onto, harder to embrace. In times of uncertainty, it’s tricky to cling onto faith. In this article, we take a deep dive into how faith can triumph over fear, so that you can confidently overcome anxiety during those stormy times of uncertainty.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”
1 Corinthians, 13:13
We Long for Certainty
Let’s begin by considering what certainty is, and why we long for certainty as humans? Many of us work hard to bring predictability to our lives. Predictability lends a certain sense of security to busy and chaotic lives. The alarm clock waking us at the same time each morning, the same rituals and routines as we arrive to work and the reliability of coming home to watch your favorite TV show at the same time, same channel each week as you sit in your chair. It may feel mundane at time, but such structure brings a sense of security because we come to rely on the routine and patterns we’ve created. It feels predictable, certain and safe.
“For he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ’The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
The Certainty of a Secure Base
Humans thrive on a sense of safety and security. The groundbreaking work of British psychoanalyst, John Bowlby, around the early attachment relationships we have with parents and caregivers focused on the idea of security and certainty. Bowlby considered that a baby develops healthy attachment relationships with their parent(s) or caregiver(s) when they experience them as a secure base or a safe haven. Once a baby feels secure enough to rely on Mom or Dad’s presence and comfort in times of distress, they can explore the world around them: safe in the knowledge that they can rely on the secure base of their parent. Of course, no parent is perfect, and it is important for baby to also experience times of frustration and uncertainty, as that is a feature of life. This idea draws on the thinking of British psychoanalyst, Donald Winnicott who saw the parenting relationship as providing a reliable sense of predictable holding for a child, that should be “good enough” to engender a sense of security in the child.
Certainty in Times of Anxiety
If we thrive on predictability, safety, security and certainty, how are we to thrive in times of uncertainty, then? How do we continue to trust that all will be okay, that we’ll be able to buffer the storms of life? To continue to live a life with Faith, Hope and Love central to our being when all around we sense waves of fear and anxiety?
The Biblical book of Hebrews lays down what it means to live a life of faith: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”.
Hebrews 11:1, NIV
As Christians, we are called to live a life of Faith: and that includes having faith through the fear, even when a sense of certainty feels far away and hard to see or visualize. The Bible acknowledges we do and will experience times of anxiety in life. The Psalmist addressed God with the bold declaration: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you” (Psalm 56:3, NIV). Here, there is an acceptance that fear, anxiety and uncertainty exist: yet the Psalmist continues to live by faith and trust in the secure base, the safe haven of God.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Philippians 4:6, NLT
References: Bowlby, J. (1982). Attachment and loss: Vol.1 attachment (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Basic. Winnicott, D.W. (1960). The theory of the parent-infant relationship. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis. 41, 585-595.