Just over a year ago, a new president was elected. Fact: the election was impacted by fear- fear of future mortality, future security, future sustainability, future freedoms.Since then, more fear has been expressed with most fears under the subjects already mentioned. Warranted or not, fear has been expressed in continual communications.As teachers and other church professionals, what are your fears? A quarter of the year has gone by. Are your initial fears of the school year being demonstrated?Do you fear a termination of employment? Is your school lacking enrollment? Has the congregation’s resources been redirected from supporting the school? Has the overall financial resources of the school changed causing the fear of future employment?Do you fear ongoing culture changes? Do you fear the challenges from parents in the form of lack of support? Or is the challenge from parents a micromanaging of your classroom? Is there a lack of trust between the home and school?Do you fear your colleagues? Is there an uneasiness whenever the staff gathers together for meetings? Have visits with colleagues been confrontational instead of collegial? Do you fear the administration? Is the principal an encourager or discourager? Does the principal support a love for exploration or a love for complying? Does the risk of trying something new have you afraid of failing?Do you have fears about your health? Do you fear going to the doctor because of the discomfort experienced in the chest or the tingling in the feet?Do you fear loss in the family? Are Mom and Dad showing their age? Have the siblings grown far apart over time?Fear is an outcome of sin. It’s not until they eat from the Tree of Good and Evil that we see fear expressed in Adam and Eve. Fear made them hide. Fear made them lie. Fear made them tremble. God addresses fear over and over again in the Bible. A quick search of fear brings up over 70 references. That in itself demonstrates how God knows our needs and addresses each of them. Here are a few notable examples of God telling his people “Do not be afraid.”“Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again” (Exodus 14:13). God gives us deliverance from our enemies. These enemies were out to work against the Israelites. We have our enemies today, and they are real. But we need not fear them. God’s promises in the past are certainties for us too.To Joshua as he is installed as leader of the Israelites upon the death of Moses- “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9). As a new teacher or new principal, the responsibilities and tasks can be daunting. Certainly Joshua’s responsibilities and tasks were daunting. AND he also knew that his own people were a bit of a problem as well. God knows our needs, knows how he has equipped each of us for service and has called us into the teaching ministry. His words to Joshua are for us as well.
To Abram, God said, “After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” Abram follows these words with his doubts about God’s promise of Abram being a great nation with many descendants. God knows our needs and supplies many tangible reassurances. In the case of Abram, it took a walk outside to see the stars in the sky as a remembrance and assurance of God’s covenant. For us, God gives us words of assurance...words like “Do not be afraid.” But he also gives us tangible gifts- His Baptism that reminds us whose we are, and His Supper to give us Himself for all the strength we need in these troubling times. Can we really need more than this?And in Isaiah 41, similarly to the chiding in Job, God reminds us of His power (2-4), His faithfulness (12-13) and his choosing to redeem each of us supplying us with his ongoing love and care (8-10). We really have a problem with God being God. We think we’re in control. We think we can make a difference for God. We think God needs our service and our praise. The reality is, as our confessions state, that God is the doer and we are the recipients. We are empty vessels; God uses us for His purpose. We fear because we think we’re God...but we’re not. Praise God that in Christ, “It is finished” and all is being prepared for us. Praise God that we need not be afraid, because when all is said and done “it’s still all about Jesus.”