The Prophet Isaiah reminds us, “do not be afraid, for I am with you do not be alarmed, for I am your God. I give you strength, truly I help you, truly I hold you firm with my saving right hand.” (Is 41:10). Strong and wonderful spiritual advice during these spiritually trying times. But more than that, “Do not be afraid” is an accurate observation and description of Christians’ trust and commitment to Our Lord throughout all of history; they are living true the belief that God will help them
There are stories and examples throughout history of Christians being called to bear witness to their faith, and many serve as examples for us today. Almost all othe them were everyday Christians, who in the face of sometimes terrifying obstruction, had to stand firm in faith and committed love for our Lord.
There are so many examples, too many to name, but to pick a few…
Think of the earliest Christians, defying the might and hostility of the Roman Empire in order to practice and grow their faith. Were they scared hiding in the catacombs? Certainly, but not so afraid that they abandoned their belief.
Consider the families, men, women and children, who boarded a leaky ship and sailed to a new unknown world, prepared to confront any hardship and the frigid winter climate of New England, in order to freely practice their faith without the persecution of the English Crown. The courageous Christians on the Mayflower helped established the passionate American commitment to freedom of religion.
Throughout history Christians have stood and died for their faith, but they have also shown courage in other ways, fighting for their rights in courts and legislatures, helping the less fortunate, caring for the sick and needy. Christians across this great country have never hesitated to respond, so fully and in so many ways to help the victims of hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. To drop everything and turn to help your neighbor is a true act of courage as well as of faith.
Now, pause and think of the brave Christians returning to their homes in war torn Iraq. Were they terrified when they were driven from their homes in the night by the scourge of ISIS? Of course. Are they nervous as they return to shattered villages, desecrated churches and wrecks of houses? Most certainly. But their faith, their courage as Christians sustains them as they rebuild one more time in the face of persecution and intolerance. There, in a cradle of early Christianity, the courage of Christians will not be defeated.
“Be not afraid”. Sound advice. As we go about our daily lives, facing the ups and downs of family troubles, economic insecurity…whatever the difficulty in our personal lives…let us remember among the great gifts of our faith is the certainty of a loving God who knows each and every one of us and will always be there to help us in times of need. A God who has given Christians throughout history the courage to hold on to and practice their faith. Be not afraid, for we have Christian courage.