My favorite words in all of scripture.

Do not be afraid

There are at least 70 instances of the phrase throughout the Bible but my favorite is found in Luke 2:9-10 which states:

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

These verses appeal to me because I am afraid of quite a bit actually. I am always afraid to one degree or another. I fear the dark. I fear being exposed. I fear death. I fear life. I fear myself. I fear others. I fear my faith might be untrue. I fear my faith might be true. I fear that God might not exist. I fear that God might exist. I fear God. I fear.

Despite every request in the Bible…I still fear. Yet…the words “Do not be afraid” comfort me. Not because they remove the fear but because they recognize it. God sees the fear we live in. God sees my fear and wishes it to be otherwise and somehow this sympathy helps. Even moreso when the sympathy is transformed to empathy as fear overtook him in the Garden of Gethsemane in Luke 22:41-44:

He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

In each instance in the Bible the phrase “do not be afraid” is accompanied by a reason not to fear…God…God is present. God is with us…Emanuel. In the case of Luke 2:10 fear not because God is among you now, God is tabernacling in your presence and in your flesh to remove that root cause of fear…death…not death as we imagine it (a rest, oblivion etc) but death as it really is – existence, pain, and suffering.

When I dwell upon the words  “do not fear” I am actually tempted not to and this is a real miracle. There are even times when the words actual lift the darkness for a while.

Still I rail against God and the audacity to tell me not to fear:

“Children are suffering and dying from abuse, war and disease!”

“Do not be afraid…I AM with you”

“People are living in poverty”

“Do not be afraid…I AM with you”

“There is so much hatred inside and outside of me”

“Do not be afraid…I AM with you”

“We are destroying the planet”

“Do not be afraid…I AM with you”

“What if I end up alone”

“Do not be afraid…I AM with you”

“What if my children die before me”

“Do not be afraid…I AM with you”

“What if you are not there”

“Do not be afraid…I AM with you”

“What if everything I was taught about you is a lie”

“Do not be afraid…I AM with you”

“What if everything I taught about you is a lie”

“Do not be afraid…I AM with you”

“I don’t understand”

“Do not be afraid…I AM with you”

“I DON’T UNDERSTAND!!!!”

“Do not be afraid…I AM with you”

“i will try”

“Amen and again amen”