“Do not be afraid. I am with you!” These words might be among the most important words in the whole of Scripture. They are the hallmark of the Old and New Testaments that signals the coming of God’s rescue and the consoling words of a promise made to all God’s people.
“Do not be afraid.” We know this phrase well as the words the angel Gabriel spoke in greeting Mary in the quiet of her home. We repeat them often in telling the stories of Jesus’ miracles and his appearances to his disciples after the Resurrection. They are the words the angel of the Lord used when speaking to the women who came to the burial tomb seeking Jesus’ body after his death. In fact, we are told that these words appear 365 times in the Bible – you might say one-a-day — to remind us that every day of our lives we are reminded not to be afraid and to trust in God’s presence with us.
God speaks to us in various ways and wants us to listen to him. Sometimes when we sense God’s presence and we hear his call we fall into fear. We choose not to answer. But God doesn’t rebuke us; God calls us to get up and wants to free us so that we are no longer bound by our fears. In a real sense Jesus puts his arms around us and walks with us straight through the fear to the other side to point back and show us we didn’t really have a lot to be afraid of. St. Francis of Assisi said it this way: “Where there is love and wisdom, there is no fear.” So we cherish the words, “Do not be afraid. I am with you.” We believe that God’s word is living and active. If God was able to raise the dead to life, he is just as capable of giving us courage and compassion sufficient to the challenge and opportunities of the day.
Quoted here are the words of a minister who was preaching on the subject of fear. He said, “When God allows his people to go through storms, he goes with them. Instead of allowing trials to separate them from the assurance of God’s love, these storms can drive them to greater dependence on God.” Let us remember the greatness of God is constantly working in our lives. We can rely upon and trust his plan even during times when it seems like God is not there. Well, yes, that all sounds good in theory, but the reality is different. It’s not easy. It wasn’t for Jesus. But, as one of his disciples we can expect the same. We must be reminded often of the very important, comforting truth that we’re not going anywhere that the Lord has not gone before us. Pope Saint John Paul II advises us to “have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing God is with you. Therefore, no harm can befall you. All is very, very well. Live in complete faith and confidence.”
The question becomes… How do we put this extraordinary faith into action? There’s bound to be hard times in life. The answer is…Prayer will help us recognize that God is with us more than ever during the tumultuous times even if his presence is not felt. In seeking to find what other spiritual writers have said about this subject of faith there was one source that suggested that we “shape our concerns and fears into prayer so that we can better understand the love and power of God which transcends all understanding, and will guard our hearts and minds through it all.” Lauren Daigle has a video in which she sings a beautiful prayer song.
When you don’t move the mountains I’m needing you to move,
When you don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through,
When you don’t give the answers as I call out to you,
I will trust in you.
She goes on to tell us that she believes that God has bigger and better plans for us. We must trust in God to guide us and lead us to the right path for he knows tomorrow can and will be better than we can imagine.
Having been inspired by people like Francis of Assisi, Pope John Paul and Lauren and other writers we close on a note perhaps a bit lighter but, nevertheless, as true and important as any words when speaking of God’s promise and presence with us. “When fear knocks on your door, send faith to answer!”
Sister Lauretta Leipzig