Luke 2:8-14 - And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!”
“Fear Not!” “Don't be afraid!” These words were spoken by the angels under a starlit sky to the shepherds. They heard these words and did not stop to analyze or consider the 'what if's' of being afraid, but instantly obeyed. They believed and left forthwith to seek the Christ Child, lying in the manger.
These words God were often given to people down through the ages, Why? Why suggest or command people not to fear during different scenarios of their lives? Isn't it possible that to suggest or command not to fear brings on fear? I found the phrase do not fear in the Scriptures many times and in many instances. Curious, I discovered the message behind, “Fear not!” It is coupled with being confident in God's ability to protect and care for us.
Abraham was told, “Fear not, I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward.” Genesis 15:1. Gpd called to Hagar out of heaven and said to her, What ails you, Hagar, fear not; for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is.” Genesis 21:17. Isaiah heard these words, “Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name, thou art mine.” Isaiah 43:1b
Then these words are found in Isaiah 54:4a - “Fear not; for you shalt not be ashamed, neither be confounded.” How true that when we are afraid, we are ashamed. We feel as if we are found wanting and guilt overwhelms us. Then comes hopelessness and despair. And we feel trapped. Fear is the enemy, the threshold to emptiness.
Daniel was told, Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that thou didnst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.” Three things Daniel did – he set his heart to understand, he chastened (self-disciplined) himself and he prayed to God. Could Daniel have succumbed in fear? Yes! Daniel was under the constant fear of death from the King. He was sent to the hungry lion's den to be torn to pieces. He stood in the dark with the sound of hungry lions all about him. A nightmare situation! The king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” Daniel 6:16 Did Daniel cry out in fear? No. He trusted God to rescue him and praised Him. Daniel's faith was strong and steadfast. He was confident in where his strength lay.
There are many kinds of fear. Fear of the dark, fear of the unknown, fear of heights, fear of being alone, fear of fear, fear of sickness and disease, fear of punishment, fear of rejection and ridicule, fear of failure, fear of spiders....the list is endless. Atrocious words to spell, or pronounce have been attached to these fears. Does this lessen the fear, or elevate it? Fear causes us to be immobilized, brings physical problems, causes confusion, opens the door to do the wrong thing (sin) and keeps us from standing firm. Fear causes us to lessen our love for others and serving God.
The 'what if's' that fear could have brought to the shepherds the night the star shone so brightly, could have caused them discount the announcement from the angels. The shepherds were considered lowly, and might have asked, “They don't mean us, let some one else go! We don't want to look foolish.”
“What if' Daniel had wimped out before the King? Surely, Daniel would have been less than strong without his faith and trust in God! Daniel was confident in the power of God. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (Moses' words to Joshua as he was ready to take his leave.)
As the new year approaches, I wonder what is in store for me and my family. I have thought about the affairs of our country and the world. Insecurity is rife in so many areas such as physical safety, leadership, economy. Killings from man and from natural causes can turn our hearts either to fear or to God. I can be fearful or I can have confidence. If I choose confidence, where will I find it?
I remember reading and seeing Mom (Anna Daisy Siemens) searching for spiritual strength for the new year as it approached. Her favorite weapon against fear was always praise. As I looked through one of her journals, I found the entry, one hot summer: “I heard it rain during the night, not a lot, but a little. I smiled at God and said, Thank you.”
In her January 1 entry, 1994, she wrote, “Every year should begin with prayer and I have a thousand reasons to Thank You, Father, this morning. So it is good to bring my Thank You to Him. Since I can not sing too well at 86, I shall write a review of Psalm 147, as my song of praise.” Mom's weapon against fear and despair was Praise! Praise the Lord.How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him! Psalm 147:1
Many people, including my daughter, Anna, choose a scripture to live by each new year. This year I choose several scriptures to live by. Fear Not is coupled with confidence in God my Father. If I have confidence in God, I don't have room in my life for fear of anything this world offers. God is my Lord, Jesus is my Shepherd and the Holy Spirit is my Helper!
The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1
So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Hebrews 13:6
This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. I John 4:17
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. I John 5:14
May your New Year be filled with the blessings of sure faith in Christ Jesus and remembrance of Him who walks with you in this life. Fear Not! For in Christ Jesus, our Savior, we are blessed!