Yet this is considered in Christian teachings one of the gifts God gives His followers. I believe the capacity for gentleness grows as a byproduct of the fear going away. As long as I am afraid, I must stay watchful, be prepared to defend myself. The more negative experiences I have, the more I learn the world is a relentlessly scary and unsafe place. This is certainly the experience of inmates and the higher the security rating of the prison the less safe it seems to be as the scariest people with the lease hope are backed into a place where even the guards fear can letting their humanity run unchecked lest it cost the life of someone--inmate or staff.
When we think about people living in unsafe neighborhoods and the police who work those areas, soldiers, newspaper cartoonist...really a lot of folks are spending a lot of time with little sense of safety or security.
When I read in Hebrews 13:6 (CEB) "This is why we can confidently say, The Lord is my helper, and I won’t be afraid. What can people do to me?" my first thought is, "Quite a bit." A single viewing of cable news or checking the Reuter's feed and there are plenty of disasters to consider how we treat each other's bodies.
But what if the verse means that God says: "While you are on earth many bad things can happen to your bodies during life's travels. But your soul is Mine alone and nothing can tear your soul from my tender care"?
Oh, I cling to this with all my soul. As I have cared for failing bodies or prayed for ailing children or read of families wiped out in auto crashes I find this idea allows me to care with courage. Frail people who face death themselves or are facing the death of a family member wonder what comes next. I can focus on the gentleness needed to travel with them because I believe that, though the body fails, the soul is safe and sound, preparing to run to the arms of a loving God.
I hope I do not have to physically defend myself or someone else from physical harm, but I do know that if I have to face that it will be with the conviction that I am not alone, not a victim, not without hope.
This is why I am so passionate about speaking the Good News behind the bars of prisons and jails and in any place where people know more fear than peace.