By Kristi Bothur © 2012
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
As I write this, I am anticipating a medical test that is scheduled within the next week. Nearly four years ago, I had a cancer scare that turned my life upside down. This Christmas marks my three-year anniversary of my final all-clear when I felt like life could get back to normal. Twice-yearly follow-up visits always confirmed that everything was fine, and since then, I have even been pregnant and given birth to a healthy baby boy. Life has been normal and wonderful.
But my last oncology appointment revealed a possible problem – a painful spot where there was no pain before. Hence the scheduled test, to make sure it is nothing to worry about.
My doctor is not worried, reassuring me that in all likelihood it is nothing. But in a moment, I was catapulted back into the uncertainties and fears of three years ago, wondering if this test will, again, turn my world upside down.
And with Christmas upon us, I am again reminded of one of the most repeated phrases in the Christmas story, “Do not be afraid.” Each of the main characters was told this – Mary, Joseph, Zechariah, the shepherds. But the command to not fear was not followed by what I would love to hear right now, a reassurance that “everything will be all right.” Instead, they are told not to fear because the Creator God was intimately involved with their situation, and He could be trusted. The prophet Isaiah recorded something similar in his command to Israel, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
My four-year-old daughter had a bad dream a couple of weeks ago. As I held her close and tried to calm her fears, the phrase I kept uttering was, “Don’t worry, Mama’s here.” No reassurances that the substance of her dream wasn’t real or that everything would look better in the morning. What she needed to know was that I had her and I wouldn’t leave her. In the same way, God tells us not to fear because He is with us. We know His presence and we know His character, that He can be trusted. And what does He promise to do? Not always to rescue us from our circumstances the way we would prefer, but to strengthen us, help us, and uphold us. We are not just a victim of circumstances, but children of the sovereign God whose plans are always for our ultimate good and His glory.
As I await my test and the news to follow, this is what I am focusing on. I need not fear because whatever the results, God is with me. He is already there, as intimately involved in my life circumstances as He was in the events leading up to the first Christmas. He promises to be with me, to strengthen me, to help me, to uphold me – not because of my righteousness, but because of His. I pray that whatever circumstances you find yourself in today, you also will be able to “fear not” this Christmas season, and to trust God to carry you through.
Father, I confess that I often fear what the future holds. Help me to trust in your love and your presence to carry me through. Amen.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kristi Bothur is a pastor's wife, teacher, and mother of five - two on earth and three in heaven. She has a heart for other women who have experienced the loss of children during pregnancy or in early infancy, and she has a passion for sharing the truth of God's word in a way that makes sense in everyday life. She and her husband are the founders of "Naomi's Circle", a ministry for parents of babies in heaven (www.naomiscircle.weebly.com). You are welcome to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Kristi lives in Columbia, South Carolina, with her husband, daughter, and son.