“Don’t be frightened, Mary,” the angel told her, “for God has decided to bless you!” — Luke 1:30
“Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to go ahead with your marriage to Mary.” — Matthew 1:20
“Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, but the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said.” — Luke 2:9
One reality in life we are faced with is fear. Some fear is real, very real. And some fear we manage to create on our very own. I have a fear of heights; I’m not sure where it came from, but believe me it is very real. There are times when I seem to have a handle on this fear, and others when it has the handle on me. Then there is my fear of not “performing,” not doing the right thing at the right time. There is the fear that I am not accepted, not included, not a part.
Those last two fears, I think, are not based in reality. They are based in some long forgotten experience buried deep in my psyche. Each of us are victims of these fears, the real and the unreal. The fears we can account for, and the fears beyond our ability to understand. These fears, the ones which seem to come out of nowhere, are the ones which haunt us day and night.
They cloud our vision, keep us from seeing God. They force us into attitudes which disrupt our relationships, even sometimes destroying relationships. Fear can lead us to make decisions harmful to us and those around us.
Fear is the main weapon the enemy uses to disrupt, interfere, and dissolve our relationship with God and those we love.
When an angel of God appears to humans, almost without exception, their first words are, “Do not be afraid.” Knowing our need for assurance, that is what the angel gives. Mary heard the words quietly spoken, calming her, allowing her to hear the message God sent especially to her. Joseph had a similar experience, only his occurred in a dream. Still, the words of the angel encouraged Joseph to be calm so he could hear the message, “… do not be afraid…” And when the angel appeared suddenly in amazing glorious light to a group of shepherds, his words were, “Don’t be afraid!” In each instance the angel was concerned in calming and reassuring those to whom they appeared.
The message from God is still the same for us today. No matter if the fear is real or imagined, the message from God is the same. “Do not be afraid, I bring you good news.” Just the fact God is watching out for us, planning for us, working to accomplish all He wants for us, is the reason He sends us good news.
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you. and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby born to you will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.”
Mary chose to believe the words were a blessing even being aware of the response she was going to receive, the attitudes she would experience.To tell an unmarried girl, who is contracted to be married, that she is going to be pregnant would be a fearful thing. Even realizing this she chose God over fear.
“Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to go ahead with your marriage to Mary.”
As a man, being told the woman you love is pregnant when you know you are not the father, is a very fearful thing. All kinds of questions, doubts, pain come rushing over you. The ability to even process small amounts of information is difficult, and your expectation of happiness vanishes before your very eyes. Joseph chose to believe the words were a blessing even being aware of how people would respond to him, his wife, and the Son. To be treated as a cuckold, as less than a man, is incredibly frightening to a man. Yet Joseph decided to seek God and leave the fear behind. To trust that no matter what anyone else thought or said, he would love and protect Mary and her Son.
“Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone. The Savior, yes the Messiah, the Lord, has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David!” And as the angel delivered this over the top message, he was “joined by a vast host of others, the armies of heaven, praising God…”
Talk about fear! An empty sky, it’s the dark of the night and a group of shepherds sit quietly around a camp fire. Suddenly the sky erupts into glory beyond imagining, creating a fear beyond experience. Did they freeze where they were, did they think about running, or were they so amazed by the wonder and glory surrounding them they stood there in awe? The shepherds chose to believe the words were a blessing. In that choice they ran seeking the One who was born to save them, to save us all.
Dealing with fear is hard, it is difficult, sometimes it is easier to try to ignore the fears in our lives. But that never works, fear will not be ignored! However, we can chose to believe the words God sends are a blessing, despite all we think, we feel, we see. It’s not easy, but it is simple, as simple as asking God to take all our fears and put them where they belong. Especially those fears which have no rational explanation, the ones that tend to leave us frozen in them, unable to live.
In the words of God there is life. In the Words of God there is hope. In the words of God there is freedom from fear. We have a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the Good News of Jesus, our Messiah, the good news we no longer need to be afraid.
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