By Owen Phelps, Ph.D.
Director, Yeshua Institute
St. Francis de Sales had a unique perspective on why we shouldn’t let fear shape our lives.
Observing the saint’s feast on Jan. 24, Father Mike Mendl, a friend who is a Salesian priest and journalist, shared a link to a story regarding St. Francis’ keen insight.
The story comes from Aleteia, a lay edited Catholic newsletter that reaches 11 million unique visitors a month.
St. Francis affirmed that old adage about visiting a dentist – observing that the fear of future sufferings is greater than the suffering itself.
But he offered a reason: That’s because when we are anticipating the future, we are not yet being given the grace that God will give at that critical moment.
Here’s how St. Francis put it:
Do not look forward to the trials and crosses of this life and fear. Rather, look to them with full confidence that, as they arise, God, to whom you belong, will deliver you from them.
He has guided and guarded you this far in life. Do you but hold fast to His hand, and he will lead you safely through all trials. Whenever you cannot stand, he will carry you lovingly in his arms.
Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow. The same Eternal Father who cares for you today will take good care of you tomorrow and every day of your life. Either He will shield you from suffering or He will give you the unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace then and put aside all useless thoughts, vain dreads, and anxious imaginations.
Jesuit scientist and theologian put it more succinctly: “Trust in the slow work of God,” he counseled.
Test of faith
In urging us to trust in God, St. Francis also gives us a litmus test of our own faith. In times of crisis, do we have the “full confidence” that God will look out for us?
As we strive to be Jesus’ disciples, we should pray for the faith to trust in God in times of crisis – and for the consolation and confidence that comes from such trust.
Source of hope
Another Francis – Pope Francis – also offered some key insights about how our faith should be a source of hope in difficult days last October.
Read more: Are you afraid of the future? Pope explains why you shouldn’t be.