By: Eric Doolittle, College Chaplain
Scripture: Isaiah 41:14-20
I doubt anyone will write a praise song about how we’re all lowly worms. Or how the poor and needy are parched for water and won’t find it. It’s not the happy, plucky, uplifting message we expect in most churches. But there’s an important refrain that leads off today’s reading—do not be afraid. That’s one phrase repeated over and over again in scriptures—from prophets, and psalmist and angels. Do not be afraid.
Isaiah’s take on this phrase is more absolute than many of us want to admit —that without God, we are powerless, weak, and very afraid. As much as we want to think we can defend ourselves, protect ourselves, and provide for all our needs, we are still very much in the hands of God. Watching the mountains of my youth burn this month has been a stark reminder of how capricious and cruel this broken world can seem. The people of southern Appalachia are literally crying out for rain to come. Until it does, little refuge can be found.
Yet, in the midst of tragedy, we do see those moments of grace and mercy. Miraculous escapes. Neighbors helping neighbors. An out-flowing of generous donations. The world is hard, but we are still agents of grace and hope. And we too, knowing the promises of God, cry out, “Fear not!”
“Fear not!” said he, for mighty dread had seized there troubled minds. “Glad tidings of great joy I bring to all of humankind, to all of humankind.” (While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks, stanza 2, Nahum Tate, 1700)