Life challenges us but we’re never alone. I may not be literally swept away by water or flames, but we claim the truths found in Isaiah “Do not fear…”
Reluctantly, I find myself adding to the cacophony of voices trying to describe what 2020 has been like. It seems everyone has an opinion. Who would have thought there would be still so much unsettled and unknown?
Each one of us could tell a story of one who has lost a loved one; lost a job; children relying on the internet to connect with teachers; or even the struggle in acquiring simple household items! Who would have thought?! Don’t laugh – but the first time I saw an empty space that once had held a mountain of toilet paper, I saw it as a picture of fear gripping our community. Listening to the news became a taxing proposition with too many questions and no answers, adding to a feeling of no control and fear. When falling ill in July and showing positive for the virus, for seconds, I found myself bathed in fear.
Normally in the fall, I gravitate to passages in the Bible that include promises of Christ’s coming and loving the gospel accounts. As if never having read it before, I found myself struck by how many times FEAR NOT was found within the passages! The prophet Zachariah, aged yet faithful in the work of God, praying for years that God would bless his wife with a child, receives a message from an angel: their prayers have been heard. The angel says to Zachariah: FEAR NOT.
The earthly caregiver of Christ hears unsavory news about his fiancé and makes plans to put her away privately rather than making her a public spectacle. Joseph meets an angel who says: FEAR NOT.
Mary, a young girl, is visited by an angel telling her she will be with child – a child who will be the Son of the Highest. In her confusion, she asks: how can this be – I am a virgin? The angel says: FEAR NOT.
Shepherds on a hillside, cast-offs from society, hear a chorus of angels sing: FEAR NOT.
During the remainder of their lives, did the words FEAR NOT strengthen them when challenged? When Joseph was told to take the mother and the young child, escaping into Egypt, did he hear the words, FEAR NOT? Did the shepherds tell everyone all they had seen, start their conversations with FEAR NOT? When Mary stood at the foot of Christ, as he hung on the cross, did she hear the angel’s words: FEAR NOT?
Life challenges us but we’re never alone. I may not be literally swept away by water or flames, but we claim the truths found in Isaiah “Do not fear, I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. WHEN you pass through the waters, I will be with you; WHEN you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. WHEN you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, YOUR SAVIOR.”