I Was Afraid
There is probably no more common emotion than fear. There is probably no one emotion we are least likely to admit than fear. From the time we are children we are taught not to be afraid. Our parents tell us not to be afraid of the dark. The bullies at school talked us into doing stupid things by taunting us with names like ‘scardie cat’. Fear can be debilitating and can overtake our lives.
We are living in a fearful time. It doesn’t matter which brand of news you are listening to, it’s fearful. Worst case scenarios are talked about by experts. We know that what we are being asked to do should help the situation, but then we are told that nothing really helps. We are fearful for our health and the health of loved ones. We are frightened by the vanishing supplies and overfilled hospitals. I would imagine that if we have given it much thought, we have all been a bit afraid.
I think one of the bravest men of the Bible is Moses. We know a lot about Moses because his story takes up a lot of space in Exodus and Jesus talks about him. He boldly marched into Pharaoh’s court and demanded that the Egyptian workforce (children of Israel, slaves) be set free to go and worship in the wilderness. He bravely faced down Pharaoh with ten plagues and then marched out of Egypt with God’s people close behind. The exploits of Moses are familiar and thrilling. But all of that is what Moses became.
When he was about 40 years old he killed an Egyptian who was mistreating a Hebrew slave. When he found out that it had become known that he killed the Egyptian, he was afraid. In fear, this adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter fled into the wilderness where he met a priest with seven daughters. One of them became his wife and he spent the next forty years a fugitive of Egyptian justice, tending sheep. Then one day he saw it – the bush that was burning but not consumed. When God spoke to him from the bush, the Bible describes the reaction of Moses.
At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. – Exodus 3:6
Out of fear, Moses tried to reject the mission God was giving him. His excuses revealed the terror he felt at walking back into the presence of Pharaoh. He was afraid for his life. We know how the story plays out, but I just think we should stop here for a moment. We need to hear God as Moses faces him in a season of uncertainty.
What fears have you been facing bravely these past few months? If we could appropriate the words that God used to address the fears and excuses and rationalizations of Moses, would they speak to our hearts?
*God has seen your misery (Exodus 3:7). He was very aware of the suffering of the children of Israel, he heard their cries and moved to bring them rescue. I believe God sees our misery as we try to live a life of faith in the shadow of a pandemic. Whatever you have felt as you considered the consequences of this outbreak, God has seen, heard, moved.
*God continues to remember his promises (Exodus 3:8). These words are reminiscent of the promises he made to Abraham, and rehearsed with Jacob. He says that he has come to rescue them. Our vision is quite limited, but God exists beyond time. It must have seemed like forever for them. Doesn’t it seem like forever to us? Maybe you’ve been waiting for rescue long before the coronavirus outbreak. But try to remember that God keeps his promises and in His time He will rescue.
*God will be with you (Exodus 3:12). Even though God exists beyond time, he is also very near. When the weight of what we are experiencing grows heavy, take a moment to remember that God is with you. He knows where you’ve come from, but he knows where you’re going. This is God’s message to Moses who wouldn’t even look upon the burning bush – and it’s His message to you as well. In your most fearful day, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and remember that God is near.
*God will be your strength (Exodus 3:14). God sees, remembers, and abides with you. Even more, God gives you the strength to face the challenges ahead. What gives us the ability to take next steps and to not give in to fear? “I am who I am” – you’re not proceeding through your days on your own strength, but His! We rely and trust in One who is so powerful and is the source of his own power. He needs no one else for his own strength, He only wants to help us to be strong.
*God will reward you ultimately (Exodus 3:21-22). As Israel left Egypt, the Egyptians gave them articles of gold and silver and clothing. The slaves walked out of captivity with wealth and hope. Led by a man whose life was driven by fear at significant moments. This life is not all there is, friend. There is much more – more than we can imagine.
I know someone will be thinking what that Scripture says … that perfect love casts out fear. I agree, of course. But while we work on grasping that truth and while we fight back our fears, let us listen to God reaching through Moses’ fears to his heart. Maybe something that God shared with Moses in his fearful moment will help us in our fearful moments. Hang on to your faith through the fear. Out here hope remains.
This short series of posts are exploring the idea of UNCERTAINTY: Faith in the Shadow of a Pandemic. Thanks for sharing if you felt it an encouragement.