A Message for the Fearful Hearted
By Kyle Norman
“Little pig, little pig, let me in!” “Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin!”
We know the story. We’ve all heard the tale about how the big-bad wolf pursues the three innocent pigs, attempting to blow their houses down. Two of the pigs find their residences blown to shambles, while the final pig, the smart pig, the faithful pig, withstands the huffs and puffs of the wolf.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our lives were like that? Wouldn’t it be great if the gusts of problems and struggles never affected us? Sadly, we know the truth. There are times where we feel that life is against us. It could be a result of a job loss, a tornado, a war, a death, or a diagnosis, but in those moments, we feel our footing is unsure, and our spiritual houses shake more than we would like.
Scripture often uses the term “fearful hearted” to describe such a state. Being fearful-hearted is not the same thing as being merely disappointed or dismayed. We are fearful in heart when we face a threat or an obstacle which appears too big for us to manage. Like Israel feeling trapped in the exile, we feel alone and abandoned. We may even question whether God has forsaken us.
But God hasn’t forsaken us. God has not forgotten us. In fact, scripture holds before us the glorious truth that when we feel overwhelmed, discouraged, or fearful, God comes to us. In the places of our fear and discouragement, God acts in healing and restoration.
The Lord speaks a word of hope, not condemnation, to those who are fearful in heart. Isaiah cries out “Say to those with fearful hearts, “be strong, do not fear, your God will come.” We are called to recognize that the struggles we face are never the full story. The divine promise is that God comes to us. God calls us to keep our eyes turned heavenward, to boldly stand in faith, and to audaciously hold onto hope.
Is your heart fearful today? If so, listen to Isaiah, and dare to believe that there will be an end to what you face. This reality is assured because it is a reality rooted in God’s presence, not your own ability. We can be strong despite our struggles, and faith-filled amid our fears because we do not stand alone. Isaiah speaks confidently, God will come! God will come with vengeance and retribution. God will come to save. Despite the huffing and puffing blowing against you, the Lord promises to come in power. God never enters our life as a passive observer. God never sits on the sidelines. This is the promise of God.
These are not just empty words. These are not saccharin niceties the faithful say to make themselves feel better. If we ever need proof of this in our lives, all we need to do is look to Jesus. These affirmations are written in history and proven in blood. Jesus is the proof that God’s love and power flow into our life. The very thing that Israel looked forward to, the very future to which they hoped, is the truth we grasp; Jesus stands with us in the messiness of life and brings redemption out of the darkest of places. For anyone who is fearful hearted, hear the good news: Jesus has stepped into your world.
Intersecting Faith and Life:
To those feeling fearful-hearted, embrace the presence of the Lord. Allow his spirit to flow within you, and to carry you. The one who made the lame to leap, the deaf to hear, the mute to sing, and the dead to walk, has promised to breathe life, peace, and restoration upon you. And because God has come, as God has promised, the declarations of God’s power can be trusted and held. And while it might be hard to recognize them at times, that doesn’t discount their reality. So be encouraged. Be strong and stubbornly faithful. Dare to believe. Your savior has come.
Thank you for your presence in my life. In those times where I am fearful and afraid, open my eyes to the movement of your Spirit as you empower me, sustain me, and guide me. I pray all this in the name of Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.
Photo credit: © Getty Images/Deagreez
Reverend Kyle Norman is the Rector of the Anglican Parish of Holy Cross in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He has a doctorate in Spiritual Formation and is often asked to write or speak on the nature of the Christian community, and the role of Spiritual disciplines in Christian life. His personal blog can be found here.
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