“Say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!” - Isaiah 35:4a
There have been many times in my life where I have been struck down by fear. Whether it was a decision outside of my control (like moving halfway across the country as a teenager) or a choice I had control over (asking a girl on a date), I felt as though I was unable to find hope. My heart was paralyzed by the fear that nothing I could do would turn out for the good. When my family moved, I felt as though I had lost all of my friendships, and I worried that I would never find new ones. In my continuing discernment of my Vocation, the fear of rejection has often consumed me.
In today’s first reading, Isaiah reassures the Israelites with a promise of deliverance from the oppression that they are suffering. They had lost so much, they were without friends, and they found no help around them. As far as they could tell, they were alone and life could never get better. But Isaiah called on them to be stronger than their fears because they were not alone, God was with them.
It can be so easy for us to be like the Israelites, to find our hearts afraid of the future. Loss, rejection, and isolation tend to be at the heart of most fears. And yet we are more than these fears. There is so much more hope and joy than the perceived pain and suffering that await us both here in the present and in whatever the future may hold. Through God we are able to let go of our fear. After all, this fear is often unfounded and proven to be untrue in time. Hindsight is 20/20 and in some ways is our only way to learn this trust in the future good. For me it was living out the move to Indiana and seeing that it did not break me, but rather brought about a greater future than I could have ever imagined.
As Christians, we are blessed to know Jesus Christ. He is the one who takes away the temptation to let fear rule our hearts. We are secure in the knowledge that God is with us! Emmanuel! And in two weeks time, He will be born in that manger in Bethlehem so that we will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is with us until the end of time. Until that time, let us continue to ask ourselves: what brings us the greatest fear in life? How will we be able to let it go?
Let us pray,
Lord God, deliver us from all fear in our lives. May we who are here on Earth be emboldened by your Grace to overcome all that holds us back from trusting in you. Help us to live life courageously so that all that we do may give glory to you!
This reflection was written by Kevin Effron
Kevin Effron is a first year Master of Divinity student at the University of Notre Dame. He is working at Verso Ministries this year as his ministry placement for his M.Div. and is the proud creator and organizer of Prepare the Way. Kevin hopes that you find this retreat as spiritually fruitful to meditate upon as he did while helping to put it all together.