Peace – Fear Not
“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The Apostle Paul often opened his letters with this greeting. It was a continuation of the Hebrew “Shalom.” Peace on earth was proclaimed by the angels to the shepherds at Christ’s birth. It is more than a general sense of well-being; it is freedom from fear. To be human is to be conscious of potential threats and to seek ways to avoid them. Knowing that God has entered our world provides us with a confidence that we are not fighting these fears on our own. He identifies with all that it means to be human.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
“Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. . . He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”
I have a heightened fear of doctors developed over a lifetime of close encounters with death, whether real or imagined. The irony of the situation is that my father is a doctor. He has spent many hours assuring me that I can trust the medical profession to take care of me, despite my misgivings. It is not his role to treat my illness, but rather to be there as I go through the crisis and offer prayer and support to dissuade my fears. “Fear not” comes, not as I ignore the threat, but as I trust that I have an advocate who will be with me as I go through it.
The angels offered a threat to the shepherds on that first Christmas night. They were sinners in the hands of a mighty God and there was a real possibility that they could be destroyed. Instead they were given the good news that God was “with us”—He is our advocate; He’s on our side. In Philippians we are given a bold charge, “To rejoice in the Lord always”. We can do this because we know that He is there to support us, not to condemn us. “Do not be anxious about anything. . . . the Lord is near.” By trusting in him, we leave the situation in His hands and trust that His love will take care of us in spite of the circumstances. The resulting peace is from above, not from within. It is a supernatural peace that “passes understanding.”
Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. Fear not. I have overcome the world.”
“Lord, we are so easily overcome by fears from within and without. We cannot negotiate life’s journey without a guide to lead the way. You entered our world and provided your Spirit to dwell with us and give us the peace that passes understanding. Give us the faith to trust you more.” Amen