by Chelsea Pietsch
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It is I; do not be afraid (John 6:20b).
Read John 6:16–27
The words ‘fear not’ apparently appear 365 times in the Bible. Jesus himself uses the phrase several times in the gospels. Can you think of any examples? What are your favourites?
The message from Holy Scripture is clear – don’t be afraid! Jesus sometimes appears exasperated that his followers fall into fear again and again.
Indeed, heeding the command not to be afraid can be easier said than done. The spirit can be very willing, but the flesh is often weak.
Sometimes, our temperament, genetics, early life experiences, life choices or past sins wire us to fear. It can seem that all some of us are able to do is replace one fear with another, whether we will this or not.
Of course, we do have control over some things. We can know that when despairing fear creeps in, it is not from God. God does not want us to fear. We can tell these fears – whether they come from inside of us or from the voice of the evil one – to be still and silenced. We can then choose to focus on something other than fear, such as noble, right, true and lovely things. We can reflect on the promises of God.
There may be times in life when fear seems to overwhelm us, despite our best efforts and intentions. Perhaps this is because of calamity, strife, trauma or even a ‘fiery trial’. At times like these, we can picture Christ’s face. We can picture him holding us or holding his hands out to us on the water – as he did for Peter – saying to us, ‘It is I; do not be afraid’. We can visualise ourselves dressed in the armour of God so that no matter what arrows life or the devil might fling at us, they cannot penetrate the soul, and we can stand firm and proclaim, ‘Jesus, I trust in you’.
Dear Heavenly Father, root out our deepest fears from the core and throw them away into the deepest part of the ocean. Grant us the peace that only you can give. Amen.
Chelsea Pietsch is a member of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Adelaide. She is married with two children and a consultant to Lutherans for Life (www.lutheransforlife.lca.org.au).
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