by Ben Kirksey
“Fear not! For I bring you good news of great joy!”
I sat in the pew as a stage of five-year olds reenacted the familiar story. The pre-school Christmas program is as strong a wintertime cultural staple in the South as Santa Claus and eggnog. I left pondering a question.
Am I afraid?
I think about the recent news headlines – yellow vest protesters, a precarious stock market.
I think about the large swath of the current cultural narrative selling me fear – walls, refugees and shutdowns.
I think about the personal and particular fears that people had shared with me recently (and some I had experienced, too):
* The shipping error was my fault – will it kill my chance at promotion?
* It’s been so long since my wife and I connected – what if she rejects me?
* What if the insurance application is rejected – can I still pay for the surgery?
* What if I make the wrong career choice – can I really undo my decision?
There is no shortage of things to make us afraid, and fear can shut us down.
But here’s the truth. In spite of civil conflict and proxy wars, in spite of an unstable economic world order, in spite of mistakes, layoffs, poor choices, sickness and death…we have nothing to be afraid of.
This season we celebrate Jesus Christ – Emmanuel – God with us. God with us!
If we really believe the Christmas story then we will not be afraid. If we really believe God is with us, we will be transformed in our ability to influence our homes and workplaces and communities with the light of Christ.
So how do we act this way? With every fear we must remember what Christmas makes true:
* Our biggest problem has already been handled (Romans 5:8-11). The pain, disappointment and uncertainty we experience is real. But knowing that our ultimate problems have been handled in Jesus enables us to experience hardship and disappointment without being crushed.
* Even the bad things will ultimately work out for our good (Romans 8:28). There is no sugarcoating the hard realities we face, whether it’s losing a bid, a job or a loved one. But trusting God and knowing that his purposes will ultimately be understood as good enables us to navigate tough situations with grace.
* The best things are yet to come (Revelation 21:3-4). It feels great to receive a promotion, see the bonus check come through, or experience deep family connection during a holiday party. But remember that these temporary gifts point to something far better and longer lasting.
Remember this truth whenever you face the personal and everyday fears of anxiety surrounding a big project, a tough sales call or conflict with your family.
Remember this truth as you deal with the real suffering of family loss, job disruption, and financial hardship.
Remember this truth as you think about your response to the brokenness and uncertainty in the world around us.
This Christmas, think on what the story of Christmas makes true. Anchor yourself there, and let that truth transform your ability to act faithfully and courageously in a world filled with fear.