Sore Afraid

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:9-11 KJV

My pastor Steve mentioned this passage in church today and it got me thinking. I’m not particularly an everyday King James Bible fan. I know that is sacrilege to some, but I am a believer that God speaks to us in our own language and while I won’t deny the beauty of old English and the warm remembrance of the tradition of my childhood where that was the only translation used, now I prefer to use a translation that is closer to the way I talk. And listen.

But one thing I love is when a phrase attaches itself to my brain and I can just ponder it. I began to think about being “sore afraid”.

If you are someone with fears, and I am convinced that includes most of us, haven’t you had times when that fear seems downright painful? When it festers like an open wound that simply won’t heal….and becomes infected and takes over more and more of your flesh? When it takes over your mind, and you can’t think of much else? When you are faced with it and there’s just a feeling of pure panic?

You hear the old saying “Love makes the world go round”….but often I believe it is fear that drives it. Fear seems to be the reason for so much of what we do and how we live. Why do wars begin? Why do relationships end? Why don’t people live fulfilling lives? Why do people stay in jobs they hate or that drag them down? Why do people turn to substances or food to make them feel better? Why do so many people spend much of their life angry or anxious? Why is there so little joy? I think often the answer to those questions is fear.

Sores can heal. They usually need attention They need to be cleaned. Sometimes they need air. Sometimes they need to be covered. Sometimes they need ointment and medication. Sometimes stitches. Sometimes they need amputation. Sometimes they simply need you to quit picking at them.

How do we get rid of that “sore fear”? The same way you deal with any other sore. Usually it means you do something….get support, talk it out, make changes that will fix it, and sometimes just shift your mind and/or face it head on. Often it requires a plan of care…or a plan of attack.

Oh, there is a healthy fear. I’m not talking about that. I tend to think of that fear a bit more on the level of a healthy awe. But so much fear is unhealthy. It paralyzes is, keeps us from living life to the full.

I spent a lot of my life living in fear. I was scared of so many things. Sometimes….OK often, that fear existed because I fed it and tried to avoid these things that caused it. I built it up in my mind as something bigger than it should have been. One day my outlook changed. Logic took over. I don’t know exactly what made it so important for me to overcome my fears, but I believe it is simply because I came to see how much acting out my fear insults God. If I trust God, why would I invest so much of my life in fear? Angels are messengers of God. What is their message in Luke 2, and at several other times? Fear not.

But my first instinct is still to fear. Fear is a feeling….it’s OK. We can’t necessarily control those initial feelings. But where do we let that feeling go? How do we handle it? That’s where our responsibility begins.

As the Christmas story comes to life, we learn that “fearing not” brings great joy and great change. It’s a gift to us and a gift to the world. That doesn’t mean that we aren’t scared as we face fear….but that we face it in spite of being scared.

One of my favorite things about scripture is watching God use some really flawed humans to make miraculous changes. I am one of these flawed humans. But each time I face a fear, I believe it glorifies God. It brings scripture to life.

You were not created for fear. You were created to bring joy to the world. Really, if you have to choose, which sounds like it will lead to a more fulfilling life….fear or joy? As a former fear-monger, and now a self-proclaimed fear facer, I can tell you my opinion. Give yourself a gift. Become a fear fighter. Choose joy. And remember….you don’t have to do it alone. There is an arsenal and a legion of troops at your disposal. God will bless you in your attempts. The sore will heal.

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.” – Marie Curie

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

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