Have you ever been afraid?
Not the my-brother-jumped-out-and-scared-me-fear but life-changing fear. When-your-heart-is-pounding-so-loud-you-are-sure-everyone-can-hear-it fear. Running-through-prickly-brambles-to-get-away fear. Hitting-and-kicking-fighting-for-your-life fear. Unable-to-move-holding-your-breath fear. Wide-eyed, unbelievable fear.
I have been afraid. Childhood fear of a late-night visitor. Parent fear of my blue-tinged baby girl not breathing in her crib and fear of my unborn son not living to birth. Fear of my husband not living through a motorcycle accident, and of him needing a ventilator to keep breathing, and of him not beating cancer. I have been afraid for myself and for others.
Today, we see many people are in fear. Fear of an invisible illness. Fear for loved ones who are at risk. Fear of losing investments, their job, or their home. Fear of the change this pandemic is forcing in the way things work in our world. Fear of today and for the future, for themselves, and for others.
We hear both Christians and non-believers fearing this pandemic indicates the end times. We see people angry at the restrictions placed on their lives. We see them attacking the ones they love and those they do not even know. We hear of those who are taking drastic, fatal measures to end their uncertainty. We see hopelessness.
How did the disciples feel after the death of Jesus, before the women burst in to tell them Christ has risen? Most of the disciples were gathered, hiding in fear. Fear of being arrested and put to death, as their Rabbi had been. Grieving all their expectations of the future that were not to be. Confused at the change of burying their Saviour brought to what they believed. Fear of what that loss meant for them, and for their community. Perhaps they were even hopeless.
But the relief when they finally understood what their loss had accomplished! Christ defeated death, has risen, and provided the only sacrifice suitable and needed in order to bring us once again into the presence of God. Sadness and despair ended when the Spirit of God brought power into the room, into these believers.
This was life-changing. This was world-changing!
Some of you have recently participated in the season of Lent, and although we have since celebrated Easter, you may still feel that we remain in Lent. Sacrificing and waiting. Or do you feel like the disciples in those hours between Jesus’ death and the confirmation of his resurrection? Confusion, uncertain of what to do, and fearful. Even questioning if what you believe is true or makes any difference at all to your life, to the world?
I urge you to think instead of “the rest of the story.” Christ is risen. The Spirit of God is with us, in us. When the disciples experienced this the world was changed, and the difference it made in their lives is the difference it can make in our lives today.
Yes, situations that cause fear can and will enter our lives. Even as followers of the All-powerful, Sovereign God, we will still experience times of fear. Does fear in your life make you flee, fight, or freeze? These are common, expected responses, yet believers are not called to any of these responses.
God asks us to face fear by standing firm, being at peace, and sharing.
God said to Joshua, and says to us,
“Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous.”
(Joshua 10:25a NIV)
Jesus said to his disciples, and this same message is to believers today,
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the
world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled, and do not be fearful.”
(John 14:27 NIV)
Whether or not we can leave our homes, we can still “go into all the world” to share the Good News. This is an opportunity to show, to live, the Hope we have. This Hope provides a changed life despite and beyond illness, isolation, and despair. As Christian writers, we already have the tools needed, in a time of socially distant relationships, to share this Hope.
Hope that is life-changing. Hope that is world-changing!
Friend, we can live today with no fear. Be confident in and share the Hope and Peace of God.
Pictures courtesy of Pixabay.com