Fear of the Unknown

Yesterday I learned that I shall soon be having some surgery done, but because I have sarcoidosis (a funny disease which, among other things, makes breathing more difficult), it won’t be possible to have a general anaesthetic. Most of me is quite relaxed and happy about that. It’s just how it is. Part of me has gone into imaginative overdrive and envisioned all kinds of horrors which I won’t detail here. The truth is, I really don’t know what to expect and that is precisely when fear takes hold.

We don’t know what to expect in Egypt. Already the prophets of doom are stalking the land, talking about the death of democracy. Some may think Egyptian democracy too frail and delicate a growth to last, and that what has happened was no more than was to be expected. But it is certainly worrying. The fact that the army has stepped in to remove a democratically elected president should not be taken in isolation, however. The Muslim Brotherhood presided over by President Morsi appeared to western onlookers to be partial and profoundly undemocratic in many of its enactments β€” curtailing women’s rights, for example. To an outsider, it is not clear whether the army’s action should be interpreted as safeguarding or destroying the nascent Egyptian democracy. While we wait and hope (and, if we are believers, pray), we know the world will react with fear. Already oil prices are going up, for fear of what may happen. Western leaders are delicately trying to formulate ‘responses’ appropriate to any outcome, and who can blame them?

Perhaps we could use what is happening in Egypt as an opportunity to look at what we fear in our own lives. We may think we are not afraid of anything, but the chances are that some of our behaviour is driven by the need to assuage a doubt or placate a fear. The unkind word, the boorish gesture, the selfish act, the determination to have the last word β€” all may have their roots in some fear or insecurity we are reluctant to acknowledge. Honesty is just another step on the road to holiness, but it is one we all need to take.

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24 thoughts on “Fear of the Unknown”

  1. Sister, prayers for you and for your treatment. A few years ago, my spouse had surgery under a local, and she was awake during the whole of the procedure. She is able to describe what was happening and even the conversation between the surgeon and her He even showed her the growth that they removed.

    Once she was out of surgery, she went out like a light πŸ™‚ It was funny, because the local had made her sing (something to be celebrated) and profess her love for me loudly, which is quite unlike her, she is normally private and discrete person about personal things.

    I’m sure that your surgery will go well. Medical professionals these days are excellent and I suspect that you have placed your treatment with someone you trust implicitly.

    As for Egypt, I too am disturbed by what is happening there. On the surface, it appears that the people who wan’t democracy and freedoms on a western pattern or perhaps a secular society as they see their hard won freedoms diluted by the Muslim Brotherhood. But the reality is that the President was elected for the first time in their history, to see him unable to compromise and to be removed by force is not something I am happy with. We can only pray and hope that commonsense and humanity will prevail over violence.

  2. Though this wasn’t the point of your blog, I will pray for you. I’m not called to a community as you are, but like you, I am called to prayer. It’s the privilege of my life and I shall pray for a favorable outcome, good healing and internal peace throughout. Not having general anesthesia is not so bad. I had two surgeries in 2012 both with a spinal and did very well. But as with surgery, there are many unknowns which I think is the main point of your blog today. We’ll never have all the answers up front, but God is with us every step, every breath. God bless you, Sister.

  3. You don’t need telling or reminding of this, but I’ll say it anyway as it has been a huge comfort all the times I have been very apprehensive, from root canals to right heart catheters;

    we have been promised that we never face anything alone.

    I hope no-one minds my version of the well-known hymn. I sing it to myself as a prayer. I just substitute “surgeon” or whatever for “dentist”as appropriate.

    “O Jesus, you have promised
    To stay here to the end
    Be thou for ever near me
    My comfort and my friend
    I shall not fear the dentist
    If thou art by my side
    To watch him as he treats me
    His expert and his guide”

  4. The comment about “known knowns” comes to mind, dear Sister – but have you enquired of the surgeon exactly what the op entails? S/he will be very happy to talk it through with you, to reassure you. And of course you are assured of prayers from all your readers!
    As for Egypt, I think it’s a lot more complicated than R4 & others make out; certainly the Muslim Brotherhood are no friend to the Christian Copts – or to women. I saw a sign in a local SA hostel yesterday, which gave me pause for thought: when we pray to God, we do not know when He will receive our prayers. I shall continue to pray that peace will prevail. Meantime – all best wishes for the op.

  5. In situations like this the importance of unlimited (!) trust in God, regardless of apparent systemic failure and crisis (at the world & personal health level and everything in between) becomes clear. In good moments, we can see this as an ascesis, an exercise in strengthening our faith, realising our utter dependence on Him etc. But there are not always good moments. God does not often replace feelings of insecurity with security. God is beyond all that and leaps of faith in our ultimate anchorage and grounding in Him are not always easy to realise. Hence our existential insecurity, part and parcel of being human.
    I pray for you.

  6. ((((Sister)))) How precious you are… Thank you for sharing with us your own fear. As the self-centered person I am, your sharing it helps me bear my own.
    Fear, rather than anger or lust or greed, has been my life companion for as long as I can remember. I will meditate and pray your post today.
    When I think of all those who live in terrifying situations at this time, Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan, what comes to my mind are scenes from Dante’s or Ieronimus Bosch’s hell. And still throughout these horrific scenes moves the Spirit of Godde…

  7. You are SO faithful in your prayers for all of us dear sister.There are some lovely comments here,and I cannot add to them ,because all has been said,but thank you for being so open and honest:as you know…..there is no where that God cannot go,and He will stand by your side. It is now our turn to pray for you.
    I thought of you yesterday as I drove out a colony of moths!

  8. I shall be praying for a miracle, the nature of which
    I shall leave in wiser hands than mine as I am not entirely
    sure what to ask for for you.

  9. Thank you for all your kind thoughts, good wishes and prayers. I’m greatly touched by your concern. I’m glad to be having the operation, and I trust everything will turn out fine β€” but knowing what I felt like at 2.00 a.m this morning did make me think about what it must be like to be in Egypt or Syria right now, facing a really big unknown. Prayers for the Middle East, please!

  10. After feeding the 5000, Jesus sends his disciples ahead of him in a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee. Several hours later in the night, the disciples encounter a storm. Jesus comes to them, walking on the water. This terrifies the disciples who think they are seeing a ghost. Jesus tells them in verse 27, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

    Peter replies, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” So Jesus invites Peter to come. Peter gets out of the boat and begins walking on the water toward Jesus. But when Peter takes his eyes off Jesus and sees the wind and waves, he begins to sink. Peter cries out to the Lord and Jesus immediately reaches out his hand and catches Peter. As they climb into the boat together, the storm ceases. Then the disciples worship Jesus, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God
    In the midst of a world of trouble waters remember “Don’t be
    afraid ” “Don’t take your eyes off Jesus” Remember the hand of Jesus is there for you an all of us you need only ask πŸ™‚
    Have faith replace your fear your savior can walk on water πŸ™‚
    May the Lord bless an keep safe πŸ™‚

  11. This was a good post for me since I am struggling with anxiety beyond help! I have seen many mental health professionals and the only option left is medication which will take 4 weeks to kick in and is guaranteed to put 30 lbs on an already not skinny body!!! Prayers, talking and crying do not help. I don’t know why I am posting this except that I have not given up hope,

    God bless you all, dear Sisters!

  12. You will be in my prayers daily from now on AND on our CWL prayer list. Prayers for the rest of your Community too who no doubt worry about and for you, Mary

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