“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand.” – Isaiah 41:10
A few days ago, I had a memory from 1981 of a car accident in a small town near where I grew up in western New York. Six college students were killed in that accident, and the memory that came to me was a song that was playing on the radio when I learned about the tragic deaths of these young people. The song was all about trusting in God when the circumstances in our lives change. I don’t recall many other details, but I can re-live the moment by just closing my eyes.
Upon reflection, it struck me that fear creates a hyper-sensitivity in our mental and emotional and spiritual lives. We can probably all “go back” to moments in our lives when something changed – maybe a tornado, an illness, a world event, the loss of a job or a personal failure. That fear can live in our hearts and minds and spirits with a vividness that will cause a physical reaction many years later. We may not remember what we had for breakfast or what we did last week, but these powerful memories exist because of their connection to what we experienced.
How then can we read the words of the prophet Isaiah (and many other passages in the Bible) about fear? Despite all the knowledge and life experience we may have, how can we put our faith and trust in God during times of great fear? One of the central themes and messages in the Bible is that we are not in control. No matter how hard we try to control our lives, the circumstances of life constantly remind us that we are not in control. As people of faith, we must constantly be reminded that God’s love and care for us is real, constant and unconditional. We do not fully understand or comprehend what happens in this world, but we can place our ultimate trust and faith in God’s love for us. When we pray, when we listen and when we worship, we can also LIVE in the assurance that God is present with us to take away our fear!
Today I invite you to talk (and listen!) openly with God about your fears, frustrations, failures and doubts. Invite God, and trust God, to speak words of assurance and hope and encouragement in your life. And every time you are afraid, turn to God so that God can bring peace, healing and strength to your life.
Rev. Phil Greenwald, Executive Pastor of Administration