Fear is For Real
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
– Luke 2:8-12
In this story, we see the shepherds doing nothing out of the ordinary. They are in the nearby fields keeping their flock intact, protecting it from predators, and guiding it from place to place. On this specific night, they encounter circumstances that move them to panic. I can relate to the shepherds.
As a parent, you do everything you can in all your power to protect your children. Years ago, a traumatic injury experience with my daughter, Emma Grace, rocked my faith in myself to always protect my kids. In that moment I felt powerless and confounded that I, her father, could not protect her. The thought terrified me. It awakened deep fears that I had never experienced before. For quite some time after that incident, I became incredibly overprotective. Playgrounds felt like a battlefield. Bike rides became slow walks. Fear started to paralyze me from allowing her to do the simplest of things.
Have you ever felt that way?
Terrified. Uncertain. Afraid.
The shepherds stood in the glory of the Lord and they were terrified. These shepherds wrestled with fears every day. Just like you and me. They were always afraid of the wild animals that could attack the sheep. There was also the fear that one of the flock would wander off and wouldn’t be accounted for to the owner of the flock. Their sole purpose was to protect and care for their flock. So when the angel appeared before them their stomachs must have been turning as they felt exposed and unprotected – much like I how I felt when my children were injured. Powerless and confounded. But the first words spoken to them were, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” The angel didn’t tell them to find shelter. They weren’t told of an enormous calamity to come. The angel of the Lord acknowledged that their fears were real and comforted them that there would be a sign unto them. Hope was coming!
Right in the middle of their despair, salvation was being birthed. And this Messiah would be found wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger innocent and pure. As promised, God came down from the highest of possible thrones to be born in the lowliest of possible places to give all of humanity a present we couldn’t possibly repay and surely didn’t deserve.
Our time here on earth can oftentimes seem uncertain. One moment you can find yourself going to a birthday party and the next a funeral. Sometimes our efforts to protect the ones we love fail. Sometimes our fears run so deep and they are so real. But we don’t have to be afraid. Our rescue and safety resides in a Savior born to us; He is the Messiah, the Lord. He was unwrapped to be mocked and shamed, judged as a thief, all to exchange His life to give us life. He is Jesus. And that same good news the shepherds received is still available today.
What are your greatest fears?
Is what I’m fearing necessary or unnecessary?
Father, pursue me with signs of your love in my everyday life. Speak to me when fear strikes and grips my thoughts and actions. Remind me that the gospel is still true today and love is the antidote to every fear that hinders me from living. Hold fast to my heart in my times of failure and allow me to receive your grace so that your joy can be shared with all people. AMEN.
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