“For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’ Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel! I will help you, says the LORD; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.”(Isaiah 41:13-14)
Somehow, every one of us is afraid of something. When faced with a deadline for instance, when we seat for an examination, when travelling on the high way, when we hear a knock on our door at night… we are scared. At almost every point in time, we are constantly nursing fears. There are large scale fears and small scale fears, we are never totally secure.
Fear as an instinct is natural. Like an alarm system, it puts us on alert against perceived danger. For instance, the reason you would not dance while on the top of a tall building is knowing that there is the possibility of falling. However, there is another type of fear that is very dangerous, it is the fear of the unknown. This is the fear of something that might happen but has not yet happened; the fear of that which is totally beyond your immediate power and control. This is the kind of fear alluded to in our first reading today.
Speaking through the prophet Isaiah, God says: “For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’ Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel! I will help you, says the LORD; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 41:13-14).
If you have ever been very seriously scared of something that might happen, it is a reminder of your powerlessness (you dependence on God) and more importantly, a call to prayer. Yesterday, we heard the prophet Isaiah say to us “that those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary.” Today, God assures us: “behold I will make you threshing sledge… I will open rivers on the bare heights and fountains in the midst of valleys; I will make wilderness a poor of water…”
In other words, God is assuring us that we need not fear anything because, for our sake, He is ready to do the impossible. Have there ever been a pool in the midst of a wilderness before? Yes, this is exactly what God in Christmas. God made a virgin conceive that He himself might take our human flesh. By reminding ourselves of the incarnation, we also remind ourselves that even now, God can still do impossible for our sake.
So when your fears appear to be getting a better part of you, just sit down for a moment and imagine the best outcome despite what your reasoning is saying. Tell yourself that God specializes in doing the impossible. Let your Faith counter your Fears.
In today’s Gospel passage, we hear Jesus praising John the Baptist as the greatest of all humans born of a woman. Jesus praised John for his courage in speaking the truth without compromise. Was John the Baptist afraid of Herod while preaching against his adultery? Sure. Nevertheless, he continued preaching as he would not let his fears overcome his faith.
Are you being threatened with death for doing the right thing? Be like Shedrach, Meshach and Abednego who said to the king: “Even if our God does not save us, we will not bow to your stature.” Yes, even if God decides not to prevent your death (as in the case of John the Baptist), be assured of a better life in heaven. Just don’t live with your fears.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, you fight my battles for me. Help me deepen my trust in you that I may find peace even in the midst of my afflictions. Amen.
Bible Study: Isaiah 41:13-20, Psalm 145:1-13 and Matthew 11:11-15).