Consider the passage in the Bible depicting the liberation of the Jewish slaves from captivity in ancient Egypt in Exodus 12: 35-36. The Israelites wandered for forty years in the desert. Forty years represented a lifetime in the scriptures. After they had left Egypt and found themselves in the desert, they expressed, “Would that we had died…as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread! But you [Moses] had to lead us into this desert to make the whole community die of famine!” [Exodus 16:3]
How do we deal with fear? The Roman Senator Cicero stated, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” The Book of Numbers contains a fascinating treatment of this spiritual dilemma.
Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food! In punishment the Lord sent among the people seraph serpents, which bit the people so that many of them died. … Make a seraph and mount it on a pole, and if anyone who has been bitten looks at it, he will recover.” [Numbers 21:5-8]
This ancient text contains within it the answer for overcoming fear. The story of the seraph serpents was probably not an actual situation that occurred in history, but rather a parable with a metaphor of wisdom for dealing with the unknown and fear. The people were instructed to look upon the staff with the serpent. The serpent was the thing that they most feared in the moment. By looking upon that which they most feared, they were healed of their affliction. We will all be stricken with fear on life’s journey. It is only when we confront (look upon) what we most fear, that we are healed.
By facing our fears, we are healed from the poison they inject into our lives. To face our fears, in our world, means to refrain from going into denial. We accept the situation as it is. We are then called to take some form of action. Taking action, any action, no matter how small, will help to absorb some of the anxiety surrounding our fears.
Pray (meditate) everyday. Write down three things you are grateful for everyday. Take one action that directly addresses that fear everyday.
This means facing our personal fears, and by doing so, we are healed and brought out from wandering in that desert of our fears.
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