But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.
Luke 1: 30 – 31
“Don’t be afraid” is allegedly the most used phrase in the Bible. It turns up in literally hundreds of verses throughout and, let’s be honest, many of those are circumstances where it would absolutely be human nature to feel fear: when the disciples witness Jesus walking on water; when Peter, James and John see Jesus chatting away with Moses and Elijah on a mountain top; when the women at the tomb hear that Jesus is risen and – before all those examples – in these verses when Mary, a teenager from Nazareth, is told by an angel that she will become pregnant and bear God’s son.
We all experience fear at some time in our lives; maybe you’re fortunate and it’s a rare and fleeting feeling or maybe being in a state of fear or anxiety is a more familiar emotion to you and it’s something you struggle with. The last few months have certainly been ones that will have engendered fear at some point for most, if not all of us.
“Don’t be afraid” is a big ask, depending on the circumstances. However, I’m guessing we’re not talking here about never feeling fear or anxiety but, rather, at moments when we experience those emotions, being able to try to find our way through them, with God’s help. We need to understand and believe that God ‘has our back’ at all times. By turning our fear over to God, we can take up the opportunity that is offered to us to enter into God’s peace; into that “Peace which passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we give you thanks for your message of “don’t be afraid”. When we face fearful situations, we ask that you will give us the courage to turn to you, trusting that you will be with us. Help us to know your peace. Amen.
Action: Take a few moments in quiet to read the whole of the Annunciation story and to imagine yourself in Mary’s shoes. How do you feel when you hear Gabriel’s message?