Fear Not! |DR. R. CLIFFORD JONES
What are you afraid of? Insects? Animals? Poverty? Joblessness? Failure? Commitment? The future? Are you scared of the dark? Does the thought of death alarm you?
Fear is one of the most crippling emotions. It was the emotion that gripped Adam and Eve in the wake of their disobedience in the Garden of Eden. Pressed as to why he and Eve had run and hid from God, Adam replied, “I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself” (Gen. 3:9-10).
There is much in our world today for which we may be fearful. Terrorism, war, natural disasters, and economic uncertainty are some of the realities that unnerve us, prompting us to knit our brows and seek relief on the psychiatrist’s couch or from the medicine cabinet. From childhood to adulthood, human beings are prone to suffer from fear.
The Bible is full of hope for those who are paralyzed, immobilized, or victimized by fear. In fact, it has been noted that there are 365 “Fear not” passages in Scripture, one for every day of the year. The events surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ triggered the admonition, “Fear not,” a few times.
The old priest, Zacharias, heard the words when he was told that his wife would conceive and bear a son. “But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John” (Luke 1:13). The virgin Mary had to be encouraged similarly. “And the angel said unto her, Fear Not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS” (Luke 1:30-31). As Joseph pondered the fact and meaning of Mary’s pregnancy, an angel appeared to him in a dream saying, “Fear not” (Matt. 1:20). Lowly shepherds in the field received the same command. “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).
Over and over in the narrative of the birth of our Lord, we hear God saying, “Fear not,” an admonition that God still speaks today. Isn’t it comforting and encouraging to know that God always speaks a word of courage and comfort to those caught in the clutches of fear? The injunction soothes the soul and uplifts the spirit, and is tantamount to Jesus’ command, “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39).
This holiday season, resolve to slay the dragon or giant of fear in your life. Conquer the fear that is holding you back from being all that God wants you to be. Overcome the fear that is preventing you from enjoying life. Remember, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7).
The officers of the Lake Region Conference are happy to join me in wishing you a season of goodwill and cheer that is free from fear and anxiety.
R. Clifford Jones