Do not fear, for redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God.
“Fear not,” or “do not be afraid,” are some of the most common phrases found in the scriptures. Jesus said that he came that we might have life and have it abundantly. An abundant life cannot be riddled with fear. Sometimes a little well-placed fear is a good thing. For instance, fear of stepping out in front of an oncoming train is a good kind of fear to have. In these times that we live in, fear of going out into large crowds, or into places where masks are not being worn is a reasonable fear. I do not believe that God is literally telling us to walk through fire. Those are not the sorts of reasonable fears we are being warned against. After all God gave us minds to think and determine what things are dangerous for us to do. But God does not want us to be so paralyzed by fear that we cannot live and enjoy the life that God gave us.
Many years ago, every Annual Conference had what was called a Love Feast at its conclusion. People would spontaneously stand and ask for prayer for themselves or others, or give praise to God for prayers answered. The one I recall above all others was one where the testimonies of miracles seen and prayers answered and requests for prayers for healing and help went on and on. It was a very nice service.
Finally, one elderly pastor (the one who had married my parents some 40 years earlier) laboriously pulled himself to his feet. His testimony went something like this: “Last year my wife of many years died. Three months ago my older daughter was killed in an automobile accident. Tomorrow my other daughter will be admitted to the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for treatment. And I just want you all to know, that He has been with me all the way.” And he sat down. There was silence. And this non-crier was fighting back tears. It was the most powerful testimony of trust in God that I have ever heard.
I think this is what God wants us to have. Trust that we are never alone. The knowledge that while we might be lonesome and miss our social life with friends during these days of coronavirus, we are never truly alone. The knowledge that though floods and fires of life will certainly be discouraging and disheartening at times. with the help of God, we will get through them. Seems like this dangerous time drags on and on, with no end in sight. But it is so comforting to know that whatever life may bring, God is with us. We are never alone.
A Statement of Faith of the United Church of Canada
We are not alone, we live in God's world. We believe in God: who has created and is creating, who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh, to reconcile and make new, who works in us and others by the Spirit. We trust in God. We are called to be the church: to celebrate God's presence, to love and serve others, to seek justice and resist evil, to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, our judge and our hope. In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We are not alone, thanks be to God. Amen.
Pastor Rachel Moser