Blow Your Fears Away
By Joyce Sohl, Laywoman-in-Residence
We live in a society filled with fear. We are afraid of change; of people that are different than we are; of uncertainty; of the unknown. For some the solution is to buy a gun; others choose to remain in their own small environment; others keep their doors, minds and hearts locked so no one, no new idea, or the voice of God cannot enter. Fear for many is a crippling disease and keeps them from becoming the person God intends.
Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676) was a German Lutheran pastor who suffered personal and religious persecution. He was a pastor in Lübben where he wrote over 130 hymns. He understood fear, but believed that we should not be afraid for God is with us and will always be available to help each person. His hymn “Give to the Winds Thy Fears” expresses his belief.
Give to the winds thy fears;
hope and be undismayed.
God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears,
God shall lift up thy head.
Through waves and clouds and storms,
God gently clears thy way;
wait thou God’s time; so shall this night
soon end in joyous day.
Leave to God’s sovereign say
to choose and to command;
so shalt thou, wondering, own that way,
how wise, how strong this hand.
Let us in life, in death,
thy steadfast truth declare,
and publish with our latest breath
thy love and guardian care. (Translation by John Wesley)
This hymn clearly express the belief that God is always presence and God can be trusted even in the midst of “waves and clouds and storms.” There is a sense of inner peace articulated that cannot be shaken. It echoes the words of God as shared by the prophet Isaiah:
Do not fear, for I am with you.
Do not fear, I will help you.
Do not fear, I have redeemed you.
Do not fear, or be afraid.
In the second stanza we are told to “wait thou God’s time” instead of thinking we are in charge. Patience is required at times throughout our lives, yet we are urged to let God’s hand guide us through the difficult times. The last stanza affirms that we should always tell others of God’s love and continual care.
When and how have you given your fears to God? What storms are part of your life today and how are you involving God in dealing with them? Are you in conversation with God and with others about helping others overcome their fears of change, differences, insecurity, etc? How can you grow in your own faith and claim the inner peace expressed in this hymn?
Ted Loder has written a prayer that I hope you will pray with me: “Eternal God, lead me now out of the familiar setting of my doubts and fears, beyond my pride and my need to be secure into a strange and graceful ease with my true proportions and with yours; that in boundless silence I may grow strong enough to endure and flexible enough to share your grace.” Amen
Joyce D. Sohl has been Laywoman-in-Residence since 2009 as a full-time volunteer. She retired as CEO of United Methodist Women in 2004. She is the author of 4 books, a teacher, retreat leader, writer and non-professional musician. Here at the Center her work is in the area of Spirituality & the Arts with such programs as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers & All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, quarterly retreats and art exhibits.