My very first memories of Christmas center on a fearful, defenseless young girl, abused, and helpless to change the horrible situation 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.
Everyone experiences fear at some point in their lives, whether it’s a gnawing, anxious feeling or a paralyzing fear. 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 especially during this difficult season. Perhaps they fear failure, rejection or how others perceive them. Perhaps they fear losing a loved one, issues from their past, lack of money, disease, or Covid-19.
Surprisingly, 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 and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and 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 that mighty angel of the Lord began to speak to Mary, I can just imagine how fearful she must have been! And yet, following the angel’s bold announcement of the forthcoming Savior, Mary’s fear was immediately replaced with joy, 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) Then 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.”
At that time the shepherds fear quickly changed to great joy and exultation.
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 are challenged to move beyond our circumstances and to set our sights on the true meaning of Christmas. With great joy we rejoice in our Savior, Jesus Christ, who protects us, delivers us and is our eternal hope. Christmas triumphs over fear. It defeats fear and conquers it for all time.
What gift will you give Jesus this Christmas season? Ask Him. Be expectant and go forth. 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 led me to Christ and away from fear.
Many are lost and suffering greatly this season. They need the hope that only Jesus can give. Go and share Him. Go and tell them,
“Fear Not my friends ….Joy is here! “