“Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night.”
Tomorrow is Christmas. Tomorrow we celebrate the gift that God has given us in His Son. Christ’s coming was spoken of long, long before that night in Bethlehem, and His second coming has yet to occur. Everything that we trust in and hope for hinges on the person and the work of Jesus. And it is because of that hope and that trust that we celebrate Christmas.
From His promise to Abraham to His Revelation to John, God’s messages of hope for mankind often come with the command “fear not.” When man first sinned and was confronted with God, his immediate reaction was one of fear. From that point on, people have been plagued by fears: fear of death, fear of the unknown, fear of the future, fear of other people, fear of our own guilt. Fear is a debilitating symptom of our sin.
When the angels came to announce the birth of the Savior to Mary and to Joseph and later to the shepherds, they always began their message in the same way: “Fear not.” While the reason for the reassurance may have to do with the frightening appearance of angels, it’s also clearly connected to the content of the message itself. When Jesus came, He brought us joy. He drove away every cause for despair. Through Him, we have the gifts of forgiveness, a relationship with God, eternal life, certain hope, Christian fellowship, a wonderful message to share, and the promise of His own presence with us constantly. No wonder Paul encourages the young pastor Timothy with the words, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear.”
So often, we focus on the world around us. We allow the circumstances of a vaporous existence distract us from the reality of God’s blessings. Children fear dreams and shadows, but as we mature as Christians, so must our understanding of the world. As Christians, we often do things backwards. That’s why I love Christmas: while most people seem to think that Christmas is a time for childish and superficial fun, I see Christmas as a time of growing out of childish fears and maturing in my ability to cast every care upon God and experience the joy of His salvation anew.
I’ve often been told that I’m good at looking at the bright side of things, and that that ability indicates a childlike nature inside me. I’m not certain that’s true. I simply try to focus on God. And there is no darkness in Him. The celebration of Christmas should remind every Christian that every cause for despair that we have ever known is nullified in the light of God’s perfect gift. “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy.”