PANIC IN THE LAND: BE NOT AFRAID!
For quite a long time, there has been fear in our country politically, socially, and economically. Recently, the fear has metamorphosed into panic station after the successful sit-at-home exercise. We are gripped with the eviction threats from the north and session threats from various quarters within the country. The federal government preaches or claims to preach “united we stand” while the masses cry “divided we move.” In the midst of all these, some groups are seriously organizing themselves for presidency come 2019. The mass media constantly give us shocking news while the social media constantly throw us into unresolved panics as conflicting pieces of information are constantly pushed to us. The state of the nation can now be described as nothing but panic and confusion. In the midst of all these, today’s Gospel reading assures us not to be afraid.
Aside from the national fears, even our personal lives are not free from fear. Those who are jobless and those who have not gotten the job of their dreams are afraid of not achieving their life target. Those who have lucrative and dream jobs are afraid of the security of their envied jobs – they don’t really want to lose out. Those seeking for marriage are afraid of getting into the wrong hands. The married ones are afraid that their spouses might be cheating on them and some of them are afraid of possible family break up. While the apprentices are afraid of their masters lest they be mistreated, their masters are terrified by the conducts of the apprentices lest they embezzle their money or destroy the “business empire” they had laboured tirelessly to build. The fearful list is endless. Still in all these personal fears, the voice of the master Jesus is still very glaring: “Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matt. 10:31).
Fear can be good or bad. It is neither good nor bad to be afraid of the injustices in the country; neither is it good or bad to be afraid in connection with job, marriage etc. When fear is constructive, it is good, when it is abnormal it is bad and must be avoided.
A constructive fear opens doors to a lot of good things. In fact, most inventions are traced back to fear people had. For instance, the fear of darkness led to production of electric light. The fear of walking long a distance led to various means of transportation that we enjoy today. The fear that thieves might meddle with our belongings led to security outfits. Today, many people earn their living by working as security agents, others by manufacturing or selling security gargets.
On the other hand, abnormal fear is dangerous. To distinguish normal from abnormal fear, let us quickly borrow the psychologist’s view: that one is afraid of snakes while walking in the jungle is normal. That one is afraid of snakes living under the red carpet in ones clean apartment in the city is abnormal. The threats and the counter threats here and there in the country, the government’s inability to make arrests where and when due to restore people’s confidence, the secret inclination to war hanging on the air etc. are big enough to put fear into people. Yet to be in panic state is abnormal. We should therefore calm down and remember that God is still in control. Remember Jesus’ words: “Even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matt. 10: 30-31).
When fear is looming large one of the things that helps you to forge ahead and conquer the fear is to remember the great things God has done for you in the past. On their journey to the Promised Land, the Israelites became afraid of their security. God told Moses to tell them: “you have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself” (Ex.19:4). In this brief passage, we can see threefold action of God.
In the first place, let’s consider what He did to the Egyptians. He destroyed the Egyptians who were all out to destroy the Israelites. In the second place, the idea of bearing them on eagle’s wing is quite symbolic. The eagle trains the young eaglet to fly by carrying her on her back. As they fly, she lets go of her body making the eaglet to fall off. Yet the mother eagle will not allow her young one to fall to the ground because she will quickly pick her up. With this, the eaglet learns that flying is not only not easy but also that she must learn to fly by herself. Through suffering, hard work and miracle, God rescued the Israelites from the oppressive Egyptians. Thirdly, God brought them to Himself. Through their ordeals in Egypt and eventual divine rescue, the people of Israel learnt to become the people of God, a special title they hold so dear even to this day.
Every ordeal is a growth process. What we encounter in the country presently should not be different. We may be in the antithesis. There is the philosophical assumption that thesis leads to antithesis which resolves into synthesis. Thesis is usually the starting point when things are neither good nor bad. Antithesis is when the seed of discord is sown. Synthesis is the resolution which brings out good, new and beautiful things. This synthesis in turn becomes a new thesis and the cycle continues.
We are therefore hopeful that the ravaging conflicts here and there will lead to beautiful resolution that will keep smiles radiating from the faces of our people. Instead of panicking or being abnormally afraid, let us be constructively afraid. Abnormal fear diminishes reasoning and results to self-destruction. Constructive fear brings out the creative ingenuity in us. So far, the generated fears have made people crying out in silence to cry out loud. It has made those who have refused to listen to the anguish of the marginalized sections to start paying attention to what they have been saying over the years. It has made the members of the exulted house of assembly to start reasoning. It has at least made the government to make attempt to listen to the people. Let us wait and see how it all plays out for the effort put in the CONFAB must not be in vain.
The Good must triumph over evil irrespective of how long it takes. This is the usual nollywood themes. Just as the suffering of Israelite in Egypt and the consequent divine intervention achieved in them the people of God, let us assiduously work and pray for good resolution of the national issues to achieve the state of our dream.
We commend ourselves and the country to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Though there is panic in the land, remember, do not be afraid because even the hairs of your head are all counted.