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Life of Faith, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III

49- The relationship of faith with peace and fearlessness

 

From the qualities of the believer it is his heart that is full of peace and tranquillity. He does not trouble at all, does not agitate, and does not fear because he believes in God's protection. The believer keeps his inner peace whatever the external circumstances seem to be disturbing.

The person, who feels that he stands alone, fears. He who believes that God is with him does not fear.

1- David the Prophet says, Though an army may encamp against me, My heart shall not fear; Though war should rise against me, In this I will be confident. (Ps 27:3) and if you ask him about the reason in this attitude, then he answers in the same Psalm The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? (Ps 27: 1). David experienced God, His help and His protection. When evil men advanced towards him to devour his flesh he said When the wicked came against me They stumbled and fell. (Ps 27:2).

He does not receive his tranquillity from the amelioration of the external circumstances surrounding him, but he

receives his tranquillity from God's work in these circumstances and in him.

Consequently David says in the psalm of the shepherd Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me (Ps 23:4).

St-Takla.org           Image: Mami Amadou, Painting by Daniel Quintero, 2001 صورة: لوحة بعنوان: مامي أمادو، للفنان دانيال كوينتيرو، 2001

St-Takla.org Image: Mami Amadou, Painting by Daniel Quintero, 2001

صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: لوحة بعنوان: مامي أمادو، للفنان دانيال كوينتيرو، 2001

If you have this faith, that God is with you, you shall not fear even if an army besieges you, or if war breaks against you, and even if you walk in the valley of the shadow of death.

2- Perhaps We Could Also See This Peace And Fearlessness In The Meeting Of Elijah the Prophet With Ahab.

Ahab the king, was searching for Elijah the Prophet everywhere so as to kill him, and in spite of that Elijah went to stand before Ahab. When Obadiah warned Elijah of the danger Elijah answered As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely present myself to him today (1 Kin 18: 15), and the meeting took place. Elijah met Ahab the king and was not afraid of him. Elijah even rebuked him for following the Baals (1 Kin 18:18). Elijah did not fear due to his belief of standing in front of the Lord of armies.

3- The Same Way, We See The Encounter Between David And The Mighty Goliath.

David, the young man, was from faith, full of peace and not fearing Goliath. He even spoke in confidence and told Saul the king Let no man's heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine (1 Sam. 17:32). As for the king and his whole army they were afraid and very frightened, because they were not looking to God who is unseen, as David was... but were concentrating their eyes on what they saw in front of them a champion who was Six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. (1 Sam. 17:4-7).

David the man of faith, when he entered the field of war he let God enter with him, and he entered the spirit of faith and peace to the hearts of the men of war with his saying Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? Let no man's heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine (1 Sam, 17:26,32), and he told the Philistine You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel (1 Sam. 17:45), that means: you come to me with seen matters and I come to you with who is unseen.

We will notice that the name of God did not part from David's tongue and it granted him peace.

With this faith, peace of heart and confidence, David advanced towards this Philistine and told him with total confidence in faith This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand for the battle is the Lord's (1 Sam. 17:46,47).

Really the person who believes does not know any fear whatever the circumstances surrounding him were. His peace of heart does not leave him, but faith grants him courage and bravery.

4-In The Midst Of Distress, Whatever Kind It Is, We See Faith Giving Peace.

A distress can be solved in two ways: one is with faith and the other without. A non believer is troubled, afraid and worried, he imagines the worst results, and thinking disturbs him... but the believer accepts it with tranquillity and with a wonderful peace of heart. Some may ask him about his feelings regarding this distress and he answers God will interfere in this problem and solve it and it will be for the good. You may ask him how God will interfere, and how God is going to solve it, and he answers: I do not know, and I am not interested, but I know that we do not have to take care of our problems because God takes care of everything.

Really, I do not know how the problem will be solved but I know God who will solve it.

Thus, faith leads the believer to tranquillity. That's how the children of God always live in peace and even in joy, feeling that God is with them and that He takes care of all their matters, and He does for them what they can not do for themselves.

5-Jonah, Being In The Whale's Stomach, Did Not Lose Faith And Peace.

He even prayed to the Lord when he was in the whale's stomach, a prayer full of faith, and he said in confidence I will look again toward Your holy temple. (Jon. 2:4). He made the Lord a vow and said With the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord (Jon. 2:9).

Even from inside the whale, he saw the Lord's salvation, getting out of the whale, the holy temple and his sacrifice to the Lord and the fulfilling of his vows.

It is faith the source of all peace and ease, no fear in it and no trouble.

6-When Faith Decreases, Then The Person Fears.

Peter in his faith, could walk with the Lord on the water forgetting all the laws of gravitation. When he remembered them and became afraid, he began to sink. The Lord rebuked him saying O you of little faith, why did you doubt? (Matt. 14:31).

That way, the Lord related fear, doubt and little faith together, as we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other sections. It is really a wonderful relation: doubt weakens the faith, a weak faith leads to fear, and fear causes the fall.

In the same manner we speak about the disciples when waves covered the ship they were on. Their sight of the agitated waves covering the ship while the Lord was asleep, made them doubt the Lord's care for them. Doubt weakened their faith and so they became frightened, that is why the Lord rebuked them saying Why are you fearful, O you of little faith? (Matt. 8:26).

Every time you are afraid, rebuke your self for your little faith. Tell yourself 'where is my faith that God exists and that He controls everyone and sees everything. And where is my faith in God's love, and in His interference in my problems, and in His ability to do everything, and where is my faith in that God does benevolences, and that no doubt He'll do me good?'

All these ideas strengthen your faith and grant you peace and confidence in God's work.

Faith rests the soul, because he who believes in the existence of God does not feel lonely, but has confidence that there is a power beside him.

He believes in the existence of this power that is able to do everything, which is all love and justice, and that can support him. This power works for the best of all and has mercy on all who are in distress. If the believer has confidence in this Godly power then his heart is filled with peace, would not fear and would not be troubled. The non believer on the other hand, tires and stands alone in his distress losing the peace because he does not have confidence in this unseen supporting power.

7- Saint Peter Was In Prison And He Had A Deep Sleep.

King Herod, so as to please the Jews, had James the brother of John, one from the twelve disciples, put to death. He seized Saint Peter also and put him in prison delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him , He intended to kill him after the Passover (Acts 12:1-4).

In spite of being in prison, with the strong guards, and the expectation of being killed... Peter slept, having confidence in the existence of a Godly guardian that guards him more than the soldiers around him. It was a deep sleep, even when the angel came to rescue him he struck Peter on the side to wake him up (Acts 12:7).

What kind of peace of heart is that, that lets a person sleep in such conditions when being imprisoned, and in that same night King Herod was intending to kill him.

It is faith in God's care if God wanted him to live, or faith in a happy eternity if God wanted him to die as a martyr.

In both cases the matter needs to be joyful. That is why peace was filling Peter's heart. He was sleeping calmly and the external matters did not bother him.

Maybe there was another reason for Peter's peace and that is Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. (Acts 12: 5).

The believer is he who can sleep in God's embrace and rest. He yields his life and all his troubles to God, and he says to God: as long as you have received these matters so I will not trouble myself with them. For me the matter is finished and is transferred into your hands and I have confidence that You will do the best out of it. I sleep and rest and You will give me sleep "He gives His beloved sleep he loves (Ps 127:2).

8- Daniel the Prophet And The Three Young Men As An Example Of Faith Full Of Peace.

Daniel was awaiting to be thrown in the lions' den, and in spite of that he did not lose his peace and his courage. He kept his faith and he prayed to God the Lord, with strength and without fear.

In the lions' den, Daniel's heart was stronger than the hearts of all the lions that were with him, as if he were saying: what if they threw me in the den? Is not God also there, or is not His angel there who could close up the mouths of the lions?

Also the three young men they did not fear the fire.

No doubt, faith creates all courage and bravery in the heart and it takes away all fear.

9-The Same Were The Saints On Their Way To Martyrdom.

They were singing songs of joy and were praising God on their way to death. Neither death nor suffering did trouble them. Their faith was in the other life, in a happy eternity, and in fellowship with God in Paradise. All this filled them with peace and joy and were even looking forward to death, singing with Paul the apostle refresh my heart in the Lord (Phil. 20).

Death does not frighten the believer but delights him.

10-In Every Distress, Obstacle And Difficulty The Believer Does Not Fear And Does Not Lose His Peace.

A believer overcomes obstacles without fearing them. He feels that God will solve the problems that come across him and that God shall not leave him alone in the problems.

But for the non believer, the problems cause him reluctance and fear, and by his unbelief he becomes a coward. The non-believer may even imagine difficulties and intimidations that do not exist as if There is a lion in the road! A fierce lion is in the streets! (Prov. 26:13).

A believer does not fear at all whatever troubles and difficulties face him. He faces them with calmness and security having confidence in God's work with him.

11-With Faith, People Preached About Jesus In Countries Where Human Flesh Was Eaten And They Did Not Fear.

They entered unexplored Africa and in the jungles, and in dangerous areas from weather conditions, nature and habits of their people and they did not fear. Their belief in God the protector, gave them power and courage. Also their faith in the goodness and importance of their work; importance of bringing the words of God to the souls there, so that these souls won't perish in non faith. God gave them power and took away the fear from their hearts so they accomplished their work. They did not mind the emigration, nor the cruelty of the weather, nor the barbarity of the people, nor the venturous weather.

12-By Faith, Noah Took Animals With Him On The Ark Without Fear.

As God told Noah to take animals with him two by two so he did. God who gave the order kept Noah safe from them. They were with Noah as they were with Adam in Paradise, to live with them without fear and with peace in the heart, and so it was.

Noah had faith in God's word to him so he did not fear.

13-He Who Believes In An Idea, Faith In It Will Give Him Power To Carry It Out.

That was how the reformers were in all times and places. They believed in an idea so they endeavoured with all strength to carry it out. Because of their faith, they endured many troubles until they completed their work.

Gandhi for example, believed in the person's right in freedom, and he believed in a policy without violence. This faith gave him a wonderful power with which he liberated India, and gave rights to the opposers whereby they obtained equal rights. He was able to endure so that his followers would not face violence, and so that they don't accept violence. His faith in the idea gave him the power to carry it out. How greater it is then to believe in God!

14-Even Faith In Science Does Miracles, An Example To That Are The Astronauts.

I mean by that, what was being told to them about the non gravity area, and how a person can walk in this area without falling. Who has the courage to walk in the atmosphere without fearing? What made the astronauts carry it out was their faith in the scientists' research. Faith gives power and courage. How it is then to have faith in God!

The difference between the most courageous people and the most fearful is faith.

The courageous person, is he who has faith that no harm will happen to him, or that he believes in his work and its necessity whatever happened to him, or that he believes in the quality of courage and fearlessness. However, the coward is the total opposite of that.

15-Faith In Eternity Gives A Person Peace And Ease.

He has confidence that he will obtain his right if not on earth then in heaven, and that he will not be oppressed either here or there. This is also how he will obtain his full joy: what has not come true on earth will surely come true in the eternal Paradise. That is how he lives at ease even if he was like poor Lazarus.

16-Faith In The Power And The Sign Of The Cross Prevents Fear.

He who believes in the cross, the sign of the cross, and the power of the cross feels tranquil as he protects himself behind the cross.

If he is faced with fear or danger and he made the sign of the cross his heart will be filled with peace. He will also feel that a power protects him and this power prevents fear from him. He feels that a power has entered his heart which was not there before. The sign of the cross became a weapon for him.

Another person has a great faith in the effectiveness of the psalms. He reads them at any time or in time of need and he feels that the psalm has a special power that eases his heart and grants him peace. If he was afraid and read Psalm 91 (he who dwells in the shelter of the Most High), or 23 (the Lord is my shepherd), or 27 (the Lord is my light and my salvation).. he feels immediately peace inside him and that the psalm's power has descended upon him.

We know that the psalms were written through the Spirit (Matt. 22:43-44). As a book from the Bible David wrote them lead by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:21). That is why it has without any doubt, power.

Others have faith in the spirits of the saints and the work of these spirits for them.

Accordingly, they feel peace when they ask for a prayer or help of a certain saint they love and they have confidence in the saints intercession with God.

I remember, in this occasion, an Ethiopian monk who was living in a cave in Natroun valley. Once he got lost during the night as he was complaining of weakness in the eyes. Night and darkness fell upon him. So he drew a large circle on the desert land and surrounded it with the sign of the cross at all sides and he then slept inside it. In the morning, he saw traces of foxes and animals outside the circle; they could not enter the circle to harm him.

I remember some time ago, I was travelling on a ship. The waves became agitated and the passengers were afraid. I looked and I saw among the passengers, a very good person. I had much confidence in his holiness so my heart was rested. I said to myself it is impossible that God allows the ship to sink and this good person, who loves God, is on board. Yes, the ship was rescued and no harm happened.

It was just the existence of this person as a cause of peace and to strengthen the faith. Maybe, that was also the feeling of other passengers.

There are many uncountable experiences and stories that strengthen the faith but I do not have the capacity to mention them all here.

However what I have mentioned is sufficient for this chapter and now we may enter another sign of the signs of faith.


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