I’VE BEEN THINKING for the past week about stuff that scares us.
I had to. It was the assigned topic for the church Bible study class I taught yesterday.
It surprised me that more than any other command in the Bible, “Don’t be afraid” is the biggie. That’s the command that shows up most of all.
- More than “love God” (Romans 7:22).
- More than “care for your orphans and widows” (Jeremiah 49:11).
- More than “don’t wear polyester” (Leviticus 19:19, paraphrased).
“Don’t be afraid” gets spoken in lots of different situations by lots of different speakers.
- God tells Jacob not to be afraid to move his family to Egypt (Genesis 46:3).
- Angel Gabriel tells Mary not to be afraid of him showing up unannounced (Luke 1:30).
- Jesus tells his disciples not to be afraid after he leaves them (John 14:27).
What scares us?
You know what scares me most? My kids.
I’m not afraid of them. I’m afraid for them. I always have been. Afraid something tragic would happen.
One of the scariest nights in my life began when my adult daughter called me sobbing at 1:15 a.m. She called from her work as a nurse at a children’s hospital. Another nurse had accidentally stuck her with a needle that had been in a child who tested positive for HIV. The charge nurse was sending my daughter home to her apartment across town.
We got to the apartment before our daughter did.
“This is our worst nightmare,” I told my wife.
One of the most vivid scenes in my memory is of what I saw when our daughter arrived five minutes later: my wife and daughter hugging each other and crying under the misty spray of a streetlight at two in the morning.
Later testing cleared both my daughter and her patient. The initial HIV test, done immediately after the accidental stick, was a rapid test that sometimes shows false positives.
I could file my fears in categories, if I wanted to. That fear for my daughter would get filed with “Biggest Fears of All.”
At least we can talk about these and get support from our family and friends.
There are some fears we can’t talk about. There are privacy issues. Or matters of shame. Or other reasons for keeping the fear and the worry to ourselves.
As I prepared to teach this topic, I came up with a few Bible passages I wanted the group to look at.
The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm (Exodus 14:14).
I wanted to end the session with a song we could use as a prayer. I especially wanted a song that would speak to any in our group who might be feeling alone because they were dealing with fears about something they didn’t feel free to share with anyone.
I chose this song: I Am Not Alone, by Kari Jobe.