The following is not intended to be a political statement, so please don’t judge me on that. President Joe Biden’s Christmas message to the American people last Thursday, just the day before Christmas Eve, left the nation with a doomsday feeling.
His body language, voice inflection, facial expression and delivery knotted my stomach and gave me such a feeling of dread. “For the unvaccinated, we are looking at a winter of severe illness and death. For themselves, their family, and the hospitals they’ll soon overwhelm,” said our president.
Jeff Zients, the White House Coronavirus Response coordinator, repeated this same comment the following day. What a stark and gloomy warning, leading into Christmas and as we approach the New Year.
There is no denying that we do worry and have many anxious moments. I ask, what is the most frequent command in the Bible?” Is it from the Ten Commandments or the Beatitudes? No. Over 70 times in the New International Version, we are commanded, “Do not be afraid.”
That’s right. The Scripture is not saying there is nothing to fear because life is truly frightening today. But it does not mean that we need to be scared of it.
In Exodus 14:13, the Bible tells us, “Moses said to the people, who were hostile and despairing when it looked as if they were trapped, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm, and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.’”
An army is not chasing us, although sometimes it may feel that way. We need to adopt the positive attitude of Moses. Instead of giving into despair, we must “stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will bring.” In Deuteronomy 3:22, Joshua was commanded, “Do not be afraid of them; the Lord, your God himself, will fight for you.”
The phrase “do not be afraid” is often followed by “do not be discouraged.” Do not be afraid, have courage! As Christians, we know the Lord is with us and in us. 1 John 4:4 says, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
Forget the doomsday rhetoric. Listen to the Word of God in Isaiah 41:10: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Also Isaiah 35:4: “Say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution, he will come to save you.’” God promises His plans to provide or comfort us from or during our fears.
“Do not be afraid” is not a suggestion; it is a command. God wants us to be strong, to stand tall in His Name. As believers, we need to know and understand the truth that we have nothing to fear. 2 Timothy 1:7 says this: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.” Any fear we may feel is not of God and should not be entertained by us.
What happens when we feel discouraged? We begin to doubt; then fear creeps in. Don’t be a victim of that scenario. Remember God commands us to be not discouraged. As 2 Chronicles 20:15 says, “Do not be afraid or discouraged for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”
The opposite of discouraged is encouraged. May I encourage you today to have hope, trust and faith that all things are possible with God? Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Much wisdom can be gained by reading and studying His Word, the Holy Bible. Solomon said we must acknowledge God in all our ways, turning every area of our life over to Him. Matthew 6:33 kind of repeats this: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew goes on to say, don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Focus on each day (the present) as it has enough trouble of its own.
I heard someone say today that there is a bad thing trying to circumvent every good thing that is about to happen. That may be an accurate analogy, so all the more reason to lean on God. Leaning gives the sense of putting your whole weight on something, resting on and trusting in that person or thing. Decision-making today is difficult — we don’t sometimes know who to trust. But as Christians, we know we can trust in the Lord for guidance and leadership.
Lean on Him and be fearless in spirit.