Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. — Isaiah 41:10 (NRSV)
In the year 2015, I was at a university in Zimbabwe to attend the African Association of United Methodist Theological Institution (AAUMTI) writer’s workshop.
We were in the middle of a writing session, which meant that all participants were given 30 minutes to write, after which we were to share with each other our inspiration. The place was quiet while we wrote, but suddenly there was a loud noise — boom! I became frightened, confused, and immediately stood up. I asked, “What was that loud noise? What is happening?” One of the participants reassured me that there was construction work being done on the school campus. I was confused and afraid because where I come from, we live in constant fear of attack from the Boko Haram. A loud noise often means trouble, and people are always looking for safety from the attackers.
Happenings around the globe have became a cause for concern. The current issues with security and the threat of terrorism in Nigeria, Kenya, and America; the fear of deadly diseases like the Ebola virus in Liberia and Sierra Leone; severe persecution faced by Christians for their faith; and so much more are worrisome because the various governments of these nations are unable to stop these issues.
Such insecurity can leave us with a serious doubt and confusion as to where to turn.
In the verse before us this morning, God is speaking to Israel through the prophet and telling the people not to worry or be afraid. This verse can be a source of encouragement as we journey here on earth. The nation of Israel struggled from the time they left Egypt to their settlement in the promised land, but God was always with them. God seems insistent by repeating do not fear and do not be afraid because God knows that we are naturally fearful when we face with danger or an adversary who seems stronger than we are. When I am faced with a situation or problem that looks bigger than me, I remember the words of the psalmist: I lift up my eyes to the hills— from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth (Ps. 121:1-2, NRSV). No matter the situation or problem, we can hang on to the promise of God. God did not promise us a trouble-free world but assured us that God’s divine presence would be with us always.
Today we can pray: Lord Jesus, help us to remember that you are always there to uphold us with your righteous hand. Amen.
Emmaus helped me laugh again, and it brought joy back to my life after the loss of my child. I am now stronger than ever in my walk with the Lord. And to this day, I continue to sponsor pilgrims to The Walk to Emmaus. In my local church, I have led our discipleship team and have had the opportunity to start new Sunday school classes and various women’s ministries. ¡De Colores!”