Calming fear in a crisis

Originally published on csmonitor.com

When facing the uprising of the Nazis during World War II, German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer prayed to calm the fears of his congregation. It’s written of him during this time: “[F]or him prayer was the display of the strongest possible activity.” And Bonhoeffer warned, “[W]e speak as though God and his Word were no longer as clearly present with us as they used to be” (Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, pp. 317–318).

In moments of great fear it may feel as if peace and calm are not only elusive, but also gone forever, as if God and His Word are “no longer as clearly present with us as they used to be.” We may wonder if our lives will ever return to the previous state of comfort and whether our routine will ever feel ... well, routine again. We seek not only peace of mind, but peace of living, peace of being, the peace of doing. While heroic efforts saved numerous lives in both the Boston Marathon bombing and the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, the need to calm one another’s fears and society’s fears remains. I agree with Bonhoeffer that prayer is the “display of the strongest possible activity.” 

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