January 31, 2021 – Spiritual Arrhythmia Part 5
Do Not Fear
The Word of the Year last year was “Pandemic,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. It was a fitting word. There were probably years where the word “pandemic” wasn’t in anybody’s regular vocabulary.
Because so many words were coming into use throughout this past year, Oxford English Dictionary issued a 38 page report. By April 2020, the word “coronavirus” became as common as the word “time.”
Word associations also changed. In 2019, the words that commonly followed “remote” were “location,” “monitoring,” “island,” “village,” and “control.” In 2020, the words changed to “learning,” “working,” “workforce,” “instruction,” and “monitoring.” In 2019, the words commonly accompanying “zoom,” were “10x,” “5x,” “optical,” “click,” and “lens.” But in 2020, the words associated with “Zoom” became “meetings,” “conferences,” “optical,” and “Skype.”
Because the language adapted so much in 2020, Oxford decided that only one word was not enough to encapsulate the entire year.
But one word for 2020 might have been “fear.” People have all kinds of phobias, but in some ways, fear caused deaths, economic crises, political problems, riots, and protests. All of those things were motivated by a kind of fear. The fear in 2020 wasn’t a random phobia–an irrational fear–but a real fear of real things that could actually happen. Some of the fears were reasonable and deserved a reasonable response; like the fear of losing a job, the fear of long-term illness, the fear of failure, or the fear of accidentally making a decision that hurts your children.
But regardless of what fears affect you, God encourages you: “do not fear,” and “do not be afraid.” There would be no reason for that statement to appear in Scripture if humans weren’t afraid of things. God wouldn’t tell Joshua to “be strong and courageous” if Joshua was already brave.
Fear is a pretty vulnerable emotion. We don’t express our fears or phobias that often, because it shows a side of ourselves that is vulnerable. We could go on and on about spiritual fears that paralyze us. Those fears could be of meeting new people, trying new activities, the fear of disappointing somebody, the fear of sharing our talents and gifts, or the fear of sharing our faith.
Don’t let those fears keep you up at night, and don’t let fear control your decisions. Jesus reminds us not to worry. He could see in people’s eyes what their fears were when they listened to him speak in the Sermon on the Mount:
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”Matthew 6:25-34 (NLT)
It sounds easy for Jesus to say “Just don’t worry,” but we still need that reminder. God is with us. We are supposed to “live by faith, not by sight.” What you see might be enough to terrify you, but believing in God–who is bigger than our fears–can help us in troubling times.
Paul told the church in Rome: “If God is for us, who could be against us?”
Fear is a healthy emotion we should have at times, but it doesn’t have to keep us paralyzed. It doesn’t have to keep us from trusting God. While anything else might fail you, God is able to handle it.