Everyone feels afraid at some point in their lives, whether it’s a gnawing, anxious feeling or a paralyzing phobia. Even positive changes, like a marriage or a promotion, can prompt feelings of fear. Almost every day I meet and pray with people who are afraid or anxious. Perhaps they fear failure or rejection, or concern for how others view them. Perhaps they fear losing a loved one, issues from their past, a lack of money, disease, pain, or even fears of Christmas.
Surprisingly enough, the very first Christmas was surrounded in fear. When an angel of the Lord first appeared before Mary, the angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”… Mary was greatly troubled(frightened) at his words… But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive & give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great & will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”(Luke 1:28-33)
As the great angel of the Lord began to speak to her, Mary’s “fear” had to have been overwhelming! And yet, in his bold pronouncement of the forthcoming Savior, Mary’s fear was replaced almost immediately with “Joy”. What a powerful hope was instilled by the angel’s proclamation. A promise of astounding and phenomenal “joy” !
When angels appeared before the shepherds proclaiming the birth of Christ, they too were afraid. In fact the Bible says they were terrified. “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:8-11)
Following this pronouncement, a company of angels appeared praising God and rejoicing:
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
The shepherds “fear” quickly changed to great “joy” and exultation.
My very first memories of Christmas center on a fearful, defenseless young girl, hopeless and abused, helpless to change the horrible situations around her. For me Christmas was a season of enhanced fears, shattered dreams, and broken promises. By God’s grace, my grandfather’s prayers changed my life and instilled in me joy and hope, as he shared stories of Jesus’ birth and His unending love for me.
The Christmas story reminds us that Jesus came to remove all fear. In fact, “Fear not!” is the most repeated command in the Bible. Lloyd Ogilvie in his book Facing the Future without Fear stated that there are 366 “Fear nots” in the Bible, one for every day of the year, including Leap Year! How like our Father to not want us to go a single day without hearing his word of comfort, “Fear not!”
For that reason, we must push ourselves beyond the worldly hustle and bustle of the season, and set our sights on the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas triumphs over fear; it vanquishes fear and defeats it for all time. With great “joy” we rejoice in our Savior, Jesus Christ, who protects us, delivers us and is our eternal hope.
What gift will you give Christ this Christmas season? How about one soul for the kingdom? Ask Him. Be expectant and go forth. Oh, that we would pray and seek a soul as arduously as we seek an item at a Christmas sale! I pray the Lord will encourage you to share His “joy” this Christmas season. Be intentional, be bold and share the gift of Christ. I thank the Lord for my grandfather who by God’s grace helped me conquer my fear with the “joy” of the Lord…
Go and do likewise!
“Fear Not” my friends ….“Joy” is here! Rejoice in Him and Share Him!
Merry Christmas one and all!