"Do not be afraid" is the most frequent command in the Bible, which seems wholly appropriate in an era when terrorists could strike at any moment. We have a thousand fears: mammograms and prostate tests, our children's future as well as their present, retirement funds, job security, crime.

We fear not getting the job we want or the lover we desire, and if we have them we fear their loss. In the face of such everyday fear, Jesus points to a lily, or a sparrow, and calmly says, "Trust. Matthew 6:33the kingdom of heaven."

Trust does not eliminate the bad things that may happen, whatever sparked our fear in the first place. Trust simply finds a new outlet for anxiety and a new grounding for confidence: God. Let God worry about the worrisome details of life, most of which are out of my control anyway. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God," Paul wrote. "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" ( Philippians 4:6 ).

When I question the practicality of those words in view of all the terrible things that have happened to Jesus' followers over the years, I remind myself that Paul wrote them from a Roman prison cell. God's peace indeed "transcends all understanding."

Discussion Starters:

1) Philip Yancey suggests that believers in other parts of the world have a more realistic perspective of the Christian life. Do you agree? Why, or why not?

2) Do you think North American Christians have unwittingly embraced a "prosperity gospel" that views "health and wealth" as normal and "hardship and suffering" as unusual?

3) Yancey believes that for Paul and the other apostles the "unseen world" became more real than the visible world around them. What does he mean?

4) How would you describe your view of reality?

Adapted from

Rumors of Another World (Zondervan) by Philip Yancey. Reprinted from Christianity Today International. Used by permission.