The Fear of Suffering

by | Nov 28, 2023 | Bold in Faith, Bold in Life, The SundayMonday Tuesday Archives

One of my favorite things about being Christian is that we are constantly being invited to grow. Actually, sometimes I find this very annoying because every time I think I’m “good,” the Lord reveals a new place for me to let Him work.

Over the past year, I’ve struggled a lot with fear. More specifically, I’ve struggled with the fear of something happening that I don’t want to happen. For example: the fear of running into someone I don’t want to see, the fear of someone I love getting sick or dying, or the fear of something going tragically wrong. These fears lead me to spiral in my mind, to imagine scenarios and stories where the worst happens so that I’m ready to face it in reality. Ultimately, a lot of these fears come from a place of wanting control: if I can’t stop it from happening, at least I can control how I respond, right? But the Lord has been inviting me to trust Him more and more, and He’s inviting me now to learn how to release my fear of suffering and trust that He is taking care of me.

I absolutely love Jacques Phillippe’s Interior Freedom, and I happened to pick it up last week while I was praying through this fear and how I could possibly overcome it. I stumbled upon the following paragraphs:

One further point: What really hurts is not so much suffering itself as the fear of suffering. If welcomed trustingly and peacefully, suffering makes us grow. It matures and trains us, purifies us, teaches us to love unselfishly, makes us poor in heart, humble, gentle, and compassionate toward our neighbor.
Fear of suffering, on the other hand, hardens us in self-protective, defensive attitudes, and often leads us to make irrational choices with disastrous consequences. “Man suffers most through his fear of suffering,” Etty Hillesum said. The worst kind of suffering is not that which we experience; it is represented suffering that grips the imagination and makes us adopt false attitudes. It is not reality (basically positive, even with its share of suffering) that causes problems, but the way we imagine it and depict it.

Woah. How much more are we suffering, simply from our fear of suffering?

I share this pretty personal story not only to ask for prayers (although you all know, I will always take your prayers!) but because I think that many of us are struggling with the fear of something. It might not be a fear of suffering, but it could be a fear of failure, of letting ourselves be seen, of loneliness or rejection or disappointment. But scripture reminds us 365+ times to not be afraid!! As 2 Timothy 1:7 reminds us: For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and self-control.

As we begin Advent this Sunday, I invite you into a season of letting go of one of your fears. Is there something you’ve been holding onto that it’s time to let go of? It’s also the end of the year, which is a great time to think about entering 2024 with freedom from something that may have been holding you back or scaring you until now. I’m in this with you! Over the next four weeks of Advent, we will be exploring the promises of God, Who is constantly inviting us to live with Him in freedom. See you next week!

In Christ,

Jane


What we’re loving lately:

Ep. 93 | Friendship, beauty, and raising eight kids with Adele Collins

  • I am SO excited to share this episode, a conversation with my new friend Adele who is such a beacon of beauty, joy, light, and holiness! Adele and her husband Ben have eight kids, ranging in age from 2 months to 16 years old, and her insights on womanhood, motherhood, friendship and prayer are so good. I can’t wait for you to be as inspired by her as I am! Tune in here on Apple Podcasts and Spotify!

The only thing worse than criticism…

  • I loved this three-minute podcast episode from Gretchen Rubin, where she explores the truth that the only thing worse than getting corrected is not getting corrected. Listen here!

Gal pals

  • Over the past couple of days I’ve had the chance to really sit down and catch up with gal pals whom I Iove so much and whom I haven’t seen in a longgg while. There’s nothing sweeter than one-on-one time and a cup of tea with good friends. This is your sign to reach out to someone whom you haven’t seen in a while and set a time to catch up!

What’s your backup plan?

  • Fr. John at St. Matthew’s gave a phenomenal homily today on the widow who gave all that she had… He said, “We never really let God provide for us – we always have a backup option. How can we expect to grow in faith unless we actually open our hands and give Him everything? If we don’t give Him the chance to respond to our faith, how will we ever grow in trust?” Woof.

A lovely week at home!

  • I had the most lovely week at home with my family for Thanksgiving! It was so nice to just hang out and do nothing with people I love so much. I also fulfilled my sisterly duties and embarrassed my younger brothers at their high school alumni soccer game… which they won 4-1, probably because of my sign 😉

Prayer Requests

  • A friend who had a beautiful baby boy a couple of days ago!
  • A few friends who are pregnant, yay!
  • All those struggling to conceive
  • For anyone experiencing loneliness during this holiday season, that we might see them and respond in welcome and love

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Jane Kennedy

Jane Kennedy

Jane was born in Australia, raised in California, and is overjoyed to now call NYC home. She graduated from UCSB with degrees in Political Science and Communication and spent the past two years working in criminal justice reform. She is currently an MBA student at NYU Stern, focusing on entrepreneurship and strategy.

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