Be not Afraid

Dear Brothers and Sisters.
Then he got into the boat, followed by his disciples, without warning a storm broke over the lake, so violent that the waves were breaking right over the boat. But he was asleep. So they went to him and woke
him saying,

“Save us, Lord, we are going down!” and he said to them, “Why are you so frightened, you men of little faith?” And with that he stood up and rebuked the winds and the sea: and all was calm again. (Matthew 23-26)

Jesus often had to exhort his followers to greater courage in the midst of trying circumstances. It is significant, however, that every time Jesus told the disciples to “be not afraid” they had good reason to be afraid.

Many of the apostles were fishermen, well acquainted with the hazards of storms at sea, well aware of the dangers of the Sea of Galilee. Their fear during the storm while Jesus slept was a well informed fear: they were not panicking at the sight of a few waves: they were professional sailors who realized they were sinking. Nevertheless, Jesus chided them for being frightened while he was present in the boat.

Jesus message to the woman who had suffered from a hemorrhage for 12 years was,

“Courage, my daughter, your faith has restored you to health”(Matthew 9:22).

It did take courage on her part to approach Jesus for healing –first of all, the courage and faith to believe she still could be healed even after having undergone “long and painful treatment under various doctors” which had used up all her money without improving her health (Mark 5:26).

Secondly, she needed courage and faith to push her way through a crowd to approach Jesus, despite her suffering from a disease which made her ritually impure, and therefore a social outcast among devout Jews. Jesus exhortation to have courage was not an idle word, but a message that addressed her need.

Likewise, when Jesus told the apostles,

“Do not let your hearts be troubled: trust in God still, and trust in me”(John 14:1).

He was speaking to a specific situation in which the apostles had good reason to have troubled hearts” they were eating a last supper with Jesus, on the eve of his death, and had learned that one of his disciples would betray him and another deny him. Yet Jesus told them to continue trusting him despite the apparent disasters that would occur.

In our own lives, we sometimes find ourselves worried or discouraged, anxious or afraid. There are often good reasons why we are worried or afraid; there are sometimes valid grounds for discouragement. To be sure, sometimes our moods seem to be caused by nothing more serious than weather, and sometimes we become depressed for no apparent reason. Yet at other times we are faced with situations that should be
of real concern to us.

When a lingering sickness afflicts our husband or wife, we have good reason to feel concern, and to be humanly fearful of the outcome. When an older child seems to reject his whole training and to turn his back on all his parents taught him, they have ample cause to feel discouraged. When a father loses his job and is unsure how he will support his family, his feelings of anxiety are natural. And if we had been in the boat with the apostles during the storm, we would have been worried too.

Yet in all these situations, the message of Jesus is, “Be not afraid,” He does not say that, humanly speaking, everything is going right” he did not deny that there was a storm at sea. He does say that we are not to be fearful even in the face of death itself. Obviously, our peace cannot them be based on everything going right for us. as in the gospel incidents, our peace must be based on the presence of Jesus in our lives in his love for us, and his power. Our freedom from fear must be rooted in our faith in Jesus Christ, not in our own ability to handle any problem that might arise.

If we are still victims of fear and anxiety if we let the circumstances of our lives depresses us, it is a sign that our eyes are not firmly enough fixed on Jesus. If we lack an abiding peace, we are not yet fully grounding our lives on God’s love for us – a reality that neither human failings nor sickness nor death can overcome and remember Jesus hasn’t given any guarantee that there will be no sickness no suffering in your lives but He has promised one thing “Don’t worry till the end of the world I will be with you.”

About Arthadathil Varkey Jose

Country Servant of India and Mission co-ordinator of South India and East India Hindi Mission.

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