“What do you fear?” That was the question Steve posed to all of us in our life group on Easter Sunday morning. It was a prelude to the discussion about the Bible passage in Matthew 28, specifically verses 1-10. Look at all the times fear or being afraid are mentioned —
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
The soldiers were afraid. The women were afraid. The disciples were afraid. Yet, the angel and Jesus said, “Do not be afraid.”
The answers in our life group ranged from “spiders,” “heights,” “mascots or clowns in costumes,” “the water,” to “I’m afraid of something happening to one of my children,” “I’m afraid of losing my job,” or “I’m afraid of losing my wife because she is the glue that holds our family together.”
I’m the one who mentioned water, because I can’t swim. And yes, I’ve now had 3 different swimming pools in backyards where we’ve lived. The things we do for those we love. 🙂 But, while I’m being transparent, I, too, fear losing one of the children or grandchildren, but as Steve and I get older, the more often we have conversations such as: “If something happens to you, what do you want me to do about ________?” or “At my funeral, please _________” or even “Let’s do _____ before our health deteriorates, and we can’t do that anymore.”
Morbid? Yes. Unsettling? Very much so. A reality? Sure. But paralyzing? No. If I let the fear of dying or of Steve dying consume me, then I miss out on the blessing of each day with him. If I spend hours planning my funeral, those are hours I could have spent laughing, loving, encouraging or EATING. Ha! Right?
One of the very first Bible verses I learned as a child was Psalm 56:3 — “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.”
And another passage I have loved — maybe because it was beautifully set to music is Psalm 27:1 — ” The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” When you have a few minutes, read the whole chapter of Psalm 27 and maybe go a step further. Go to YouTube and watch a wonderful gospel choir sing these words.
There are times when all of us will feel fearful, but let’s cling to the promise that God is holding us in His “righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10 — “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”