Faith, Not Fear
In his live-streamed sermon this past Sunday, Pastor. Eric unpacked the meaning of three encounters Jesus has on his walk to the cross. Simon of Cyrene is conscripted to carry his cross. Women followers of Jesus are weeping for what’s coming. And the Pharisees are hurrying to get Jesus crucified before the Sabbath begins. None of them understand the significance of what is happening, and Jesus asks his Father to forgive them. Jesus understands that they are afraid: Simon is a stranger in Roman-occupied Israel, fearful of the soldiers. The weeping women are afraid of what will soon happen to Jesus. The Pharisees are afraid of Jesus. No one knows what will happen next.
Doesn’t that sound just like us right now? We’re afraid and we don’t know what will happen next.
We don’t know if we’ll get the Coronavirus or someone close to us will, or worst of all, if we’ll be the agent unknowingly giving the virus to someone else.
We don’t know how we’ll pay the bills, make the rent or buy groceries. We’re afraid that the U.S. economy and our personal finances are both tanking. And we don’t know when the pandemic will end.
Uncertainty breeds fear. But we don’t have to be consumed by it. We need to take precautions, but most of all, we need to remember that God tells us to “Fear not. For I am with you. Always.” Always includes Now. Jesus is with us when we feel anxious, when we can’t answer our children’s questions, when we wonder if life will ever be anything like normal again.
Trusting in God’s promises, trusting in Jesus, will get us through this thing. We need to let our faith be bigger than our fear. We need to pray for the strength we need to grow our faith. And we need to focus on today – this day, not tomorrow. Today is still a gift from God and an opportunity to praise him by what we do and say.
In his message to the children on Sunday, Pastor Eric encouraged them to focus on what they CAN do, not on what they can’t, and to look for creative ways to love each other from a distance. That’s good advice for all of us. Taking action reminds us that we get to choose how we respond to the things that frighten us. Choose faith, not fear. Trust God, Trust Jesus.
Heavenly Father, Thank you for being with us in this uncertain time. Thank you for being our rock when everyday life feels like uncharted territory. Replace our fear with faith and renew our spirits as we wait for this trial to pass. Amen.
Written by Cheryl Stubbendieck
Luke 23:26-34a (NRSV)
“As they led him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus. A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are surely coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” ”
Cheryl Stubbendieck is a member of Sheridan’s Devotion Writing Team. She was the public relations department head for Nebraska Farm Bureau before retiring in 2012. She and her husband Jim are the editors of a quarterly journal about antique side-by-side shotguns and Cheryl is the co-leader of Sheridan’s new Card Makers group. Their family includes their son Aaron and his wife Chaitra of San Francisco, CA, and their son Reed of Madison, WI.