Weekly column from Germany: Fear belongs to this world


Christian Life

Wolfgang Stock, CNE.news

Ukrainian rescuers extinguish a fire after a rocket hit an infrastructure object in Kharkiv. Photo EPA, Sergey Kozlov

I sit in my study in southern Germany and button my cardigan even tighter. The heating is off because I want to save gas. In front of me is a letter from my gas supplier announcing that I will now have to pay almost seven times more than before. Of course, I will cancel this contract and not accept this price increase.

The fact that I can do so and get my gas from a different supplier is a luxury for which I am very grateful to my Lord God. I am allowed to live in a country where the markets are liberalised. Thus, I have a lot of choice, but on the other hand, I also have a lot of rights as a consumer, too.

Furthermore, I am lucky that, as a journalist, I know how do my research and understand legal texts - not everyone has those skills. Take for example, the two old ladies living across from me. They certainly wouldn't know how to help themselves as well as I do. And if they didn't have me as a neighbour and could ask, they would now pay €1000 for gas instead of €150 a month.

However, in Germany we have a government that wants to protect its citizens against the worst when it comes to gas prices. Therefore, the authorities want to spend €200 billion on this over the next two and a half years.

German Angst

Nevertheless, many of us are afraid of the coming winter months. "Angst” (fear) is a word that is supposedly typically German: the British speak of "German Angst". Well, indeed: many in Germany are afraid of the future. Our newspapers are full of this fear.

In the evening, we see on TV how the Russian army is destroying the electricity and gas supply infrastructure in Ukraine. A third of it is said to have been destroyed already.

For my neighbours and me it is "only" a matter of having to spend much more on energy, an issue of having a little less money as a result. However, for millions of people in Ukraine, it is a matter of survival without heating and cooking facilities. I can well imagine that many Ukrainians are afraid too.

Wolfgang Stock Sommer 2017 6675.jpg
Wolfgang Stock

Wolfgang Stock was born in 1959 in Hanover, West Germany, as the child of refugees from the Eastern GDR. He studied history and international politics in Würzburg and Oxford, where he also received his doctorate. He is a board member of the German Evangelical Alliance. He worked as a journalist for many years, wrote several political books, including the first biography of Angela Merkel in 2000. He lives in Karlsruhe with his wife. They have five grown-up children and three grandchildren.

"In the world you will have tribulation": this word of Jesus now comes true every day.

But Jesus also comforts us: This is part of this world!

And He adds: "But take heart, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

He does not say: As a believer you will have no tribulation. No, Jesus does not gloss over anything. He analyses and says very soberly: The world is not a land of milk and honey - not even for those who believe.

That is why the Bible can also speak openly about fears: "Lord, have mercy on me, for I am afraid", cries the praying man of a Psalm (Psalm 31:10). And the disciples of Jesus - how often are they afraid, for example, in the storm on the Sea of Galilee. They are afraid and run away when Jesus is arrested.

Yes, as Christians we are allowed to be afraid. We are allowed to admit it to God and we are also allowed to complain to him. God hears us. Hopefully we all have a person or a group to whom we can talk about our fears. Talking about your fear is not shameful, it is very human.

However, Jesus also says "but". His "but" puts our fear in its place. It does not erase the fear.

"Be of good cheer!" we read in our Bible translation. Today, it is more common to say, "Keep cool!", "Don't let yourselves go crazy!", "Have courage for the future!"

Jesus gives a reason for this courage for the future: "I have overcome the world". Jesus does not say, "I have overcome fear", but "the world".

Unfortunately, I hardly hear this message in the big churches in Germany. They are more concerned about peace in itself. Much less, they worry about the peace of the souls of believers with God, through Jesus.

That is why I am grateful that I learned Jesus' promise early on in my life: "In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world".



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