Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! (Isaiah 35:4)
Today’s readings sketch some scenes from the life that God wants for all of us: a life of freedom, strength, and generosity. At the same time, they show how fear can be a hindrance to entering fully into that life. In the second reading, for instance, James exhorts us to welcome the needy and the outcast. But do you ever find that fear is keeping you from embracing the unfamiliar? Or maybe you feel nervous asking for miracles as boldly as Jesus does in the Gospel reading.
There are hundreds of occasions in the Bible when God tells someone “Fear not,” and for good reason. Just the thought of encountering God in all his glory can be unsettling! But there’s a twist in today’s first reading. God doesn’t just tell the Israelites not to be afraid. He wants them to say the same thing to the people around them. That’s because he knows how helping someone else to overcome fear is one of the best ways to conquer it in your own life.
Do you find that anxiety is a recurring theme when you talk with your friends, neighbors, or workmates? Whether it’s stories in the news or concerns over relationships or finances, much of our daily conversation can be spent expressing fear. Turn those conversations upside down by sharing an encouraging story. It could be how you saw God work in your life or the life of a loved one. It could be a new insight from Scripture. It could even be one of the stories you’ve read in this magazine! God hasn’t just commanded us not to be afraid. He has given us thousands of good reasons to live fearlessly. Then watch as your own heart swells with encouragement—and the people around you brighten up as well.
Make a list today of some of the stories you could have “up your sleeve” that will help encourage the fainthearted—including yourself.
“Lord, you are always at work to overcome fear in my life. Help me to live courageously, always ready to encourage the people around me.”~WAU