If you saw our congregation’s filmed Children’s Christmas Pageant this past year, you were blessed! What a beautiful and inspiring retelling of the Christmas story it was! The costumes were simple, the farm setting beautiful and the children so sincere and sweet as they acted, spoke and sang. This year’s rendition of the familiar story opened with a new twist—a mother reading a book to her child at bedtime. As part of their conversation, he told her all of the things he was afraid of. The list was long and comical! Even at a young age, he knew he had many good reasons to fear! Are you sure nothing is under the bed or in the closet?
It is said the Psalter was the prayer book of the ancient Israelites. These ancient prayers record just about every feeling, hope or emotion the human heart has ever known. And sure enough—fear shows up prominently in the Psalms! The wisdom of the Psalms teaches us that when we turn to the light and strength of God something amazing happens within us: our fear diminishes. The blessing and benefit of having God in your life is that you find confidence, strength and courage to face whatever is before you so long as you focus on God. It is fitting that this same psalm ends with a call: “Be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.”
What I notice in this Psalm is that it doesn’t say “you have no good reason to be afraid.” The truth is, likely we do have legitimate reasons to be afraid (just as the little boy in the Christmas story shared with his mother). Whether monsters or spiders, hunger or sickness, bullies, bee stings or bicycle wrecks…there are a lot of fearful, dangerous and hurtful things out there. God doesn’t remove them from our path! Instead, God gives us courage to face them and not be overcome or immobilized by fear. It is a truth: light dispels the darkness. When we know that God holds us, we no longer worry (at least not as much!) about what others might do to us or say about us. We can live with confidence.