April 24th, 2013
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“Do not be afraid” “Have no fear… ” (Genesis 15:1, 21:17, 26:24, 35:17, 43:23, 46:3, 50:19, 21; Exodus 14:13, 20:20; Numbers 14:9, 21:34; Deuteronomy 1:29, 7:18, 20:1-3, 31:6; Joshua 10:25, 11:6; Ruth 3:11; 1 Samuel 4:20, 12:20, 22:23, 23:17, 28:13; 2 Samuel 9:7, 13:28; 1 Kings 17:13; 2 Kings 1:15, 6:16, 19:6, 25:24; 1 Chronicles 22:13, 28:20; 2 Chronicles 32:7; Nehemiah 4:14; Job 33:7; Psalm 23:4, 49:16; Proverbs 3:25; Isaiah 44:8, 10:24; 37:6; 41:10; Jeremiah 1:8; 10:5, 10:31; 14:27; 17:7; 28:5, 10, 30:10, 40:9; 42:11, 46:27-28; Ezekiel 2:6; Zechariah 8:13, 15; Matthew 10:26, 1:20; Mark 6:50; Luke 1:13, 30; 2:10; 5:10; 12:7, 32; John 6:20; 12:15; Acts 18:9; 27:24; Revelation 1:17)
In the wake of two horrendous disasters, the bombing in Boston and the explosion in West, Texas, it’s easy to jump to conclusions. With the media breathless over the capture of the second suspect in Boston, the temptation to let our fears run with us grows. The fact that the Tsarnaev brothers are Chechen, and the elder brother seems to have been a radicalized Muslim, feeds the anti-Muslim paranoia of some. The understandable prudence of officials in Texas, who have said they will investigate that explosion as if it is a crime, can also feed the fear of those who see conspiracies around every corner.
The other reaction among us is to assure ourselves that we are strong and resilient, that we can overcome the suffering and trauma. So the President gets cheers for proclaiming that next’s year’s marathon will be better. And surely that impulse to reassure ourselves is a good and right one.
At the same time, these events ought not blind us to another reality. We are vulnerable. Even without bombings and explosions, we are terribly vulnerable. It seems to me the most profound response to tragedy includes the reassurance that we will survive, and the realization that we truly do need each other.
The gift of the resurrection gives Christians a profoundly hopeful way of looking at the world, including such events. The resurrection of Jesus means God’s way living has already taken hold in our world. We may miss it, especially when such awful things happen, but the signs are there.
When we take care of each other, welcome each other, support each other, that’s a taste of God’s intention for us. When we seek justice, but not revenge, that’s a taste of God’s intention for us. When we refuse to indulge our fears, that’s a taste of the God who comes to take away our fear.
“Do not be afraid,” and the phrases similar to it are, I’m pretty sure, the most frequent sayings in the Bible. I did two quick searches of the phrases above in this nifty Bible program I have. It showed the citations I list.
Do not fear. Is it possible God means it?
Grace and peace, Jamie