In 2012, legendary jumper, Felix Baumgartner, jumped from a helium balloon 24 miles above the earth’s surface, setting a record for the highest ever free-fall. Red Bull, the sponsor, had poured more than $65 million into the project and employed some of the world’s most eminent scientists and engineers to see it through, but the mission was nearly a complete failure – not because of any technical difficulties, but because in the months leading up to the jump, Baumgartner had developed a crippling fear.
Many veterans have experienced this kind of fear. On the eve of a battle, emotions range from excitement to fear, even crippling anxiety. These are normal feelings. But you faced these fears and faced them with courage. You went on missions and conquered fear with courage and hope. You discovered, in the process, that courage isn’t the absence of fear; it’s the ability to control fear.
Our world today continues to face a deadly coronavirus. The media rattles off that there are over 262 million cases worldwide, and over 5.2 million deaths. The largest task before us is how to keep our heads when all we see around us is fear. Many wash their hands incessantly, wear masks, fear human contact, hide in their houses, shut down schools, close businesses, etc. Now, I’m not advocating that we abandon all safeguards. What I am setting forth is the need to not allow our fears to drive and shape who we are, what we believe, how we live, and how we hope.
Consider the Apostle Paul. This man of God was locked in a prison cell, unable to preach the Gospel in Spain, and unable to move about freely, things that he longed to do. Yet rather than bemoan his situation or allow his situation to define his work, Paul was able to write the Philippian letter from that confinement. In fact, most of this individual’s letters were written from prison cells. Take the time to read his joyous words in Philippians 4:4-8.
I am reminded of these words from an unknown source: “Two men look through prison bars; one sees mud, the other stars.” In the midst of this pandemic, and any other challenges in life, remember the promises that nothing can separate us from the love of our Father in heaven (cf. Romans 8:28). And on a lighter note, remember the words of the song by Frank Sinatra, “High Hopes,” as we engage in battles, “Woops, there goes another rubber tree plant.”