This post, originally entitled “Relieving My Fears” and published on July 25, 2016, has been updated to be included in the “Favored, Blessed, Pierced” Lent 2020 Reading Plan.
My devotional asks me, “What can I do to relieve the fears of others?” I am stopped short. I have been exacerbating fears, not relieving them.
As he stumbles down the Via Delarosa toward his death, Jesus says these words:
Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are coming when they will say, “Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed,” Then they will begin to say to the mountains, “Fall on us”; and to the hills, “Cover us.” For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?Luke 23:28–31
This was a very dark day for the women disciples who followed Jesus. (I wonder if his mother, Mary, was part of the group?) Their very hope was about to be crucified. It looked like evil would win after all. The innocent One was going to die. Such injustice. Such waste. Such madness. Such hopelessness. Pierced.
And instead of comforting the women and telling them it will be okay (like I would prefer to hear), Jesus, in essence, tells them that it is going to get worse. And it did, in one sense. The Romans remained in power. Jerusalem was destroyed. The fledgling church experienced persecution. The innocent continued to suffer.
But in another sense, it was okay. Fortunately, I know the end of the story. Jesus’s death had a greater purpose. A bigger picture was unfolding. His death conquered death (I Corinthians 15:24-28). In the end, the righteous do win. Justice will be done. Jesus will reign forevermore (Revelation 21:1-4)!
In a world with terrorism, narcissism, dictators and overall insanity, these truths relieve my fears today because they remind me to trust God’s bigger plan. To trust it for my life here and now.
While I don’t like seeing evil reign in the world today nor do I want to accept that it is most likely going to get worse, I must focus on the hope of God’s bigger plan.
I must confess that it is pride that makes me believe the lie that I should be exempt from suffering, that I deserve good things and comfort and worldly peace; that I am above or better than others who suffer (because I am an American or I made better choices or obeyed God or whatever).
I must depend more and more on the God who is peace for my safety and security and not on law enforcement or leadership or even common sense.
And I must focus on what really counts—and what counted for Mary—building God’s kingdom by discipling others and helping them know that they are dearly loved.
REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION
What can you do to relieve the fears of others?
What can you focus on instead of your your fears?
Lord, help me to keep living dependent on you, not on the supposed safety of my nation or the wisdom of its leaders. Show me how to spread your hope as I look at your bigger picture. And most of all, renew my zeal to dive into what matters most—building your kingdom!
I Corinthians 15:24-28