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Naming and facing our fears


Faith Lutheran Church

This month our book club has chosen Yann Martel’s novel “Life of Pi.” The story tells of a teenager named Pi, the sole human survivor of a cargo ship that sinks in the Pacific Ocean. It had been transporting his family and the animals from his family’s zoo in India to Canada, where they’d hoped to start a new life.

For 227 days, Pi drifts in a lifeboat with a 450-pound Bengal tiger that crawled into the lifeboat as the ship sank. It’s not a cute, cuddly story about a boy and his kitten. It’s an engaging, dangerous ordeal. The more he faces his fear, the better, the better he’s able to overcome it.

It’s quite a metaphor: We may need to live with what we fear, what we don’t understand and what challenges us to survive a greater trial. Faith and fear are partners in the boat together.

What are some of our fears? Perhaps passing a test, running a marathon, getting dumped by a romantic partner, surviving cancer, raising teenagers, being fired, changing careers, experiencing the death of a spouse?

I John 4:18 tells us that “perfect love casts out fear.” That’s an interesting phrasing. When Jesus “cast out” a demon, he called it by name. In those days, knowing someone’s name was to have power over them. Jesus named the demons, faced them and away they went. When we can name our fears, understand them and look beyond them in love, we have power over them too. We all have to come to terms with our “tigers” and tame them with love.

The good news is that our tigers don’t need to be feared, and we don’t have to run away from them. We can overcome them with love- love for God and for each other.

Marlys Korman is the pastor at Faith Lutheran Church.