“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)
Moses made this statement to Joshua when he appointed him as his successor for taking the people of Israel across the Jordan River into the land of Canaan. Taking a people into a new land and removing the people who were previously there was indeed a formidable task and it was understandable that Joshua was experiencing fear and doubt. Moses told Joshua to “be strong and courageous.”
Have you ever become fearful about whether you can handle a new task or situation that appears formidable? The possibilities are many — taking on a new job whose scope and responsibilities appear to exceed your skills and experience; trying to restore a relationship that is broken; persuading a rebellious child to change his or her ways; providing ongoing care of a loved one; facing an illness involving suffering, disability or even death. All of these circumstances can give rise to fear and doubt.
After serving as an attorney for Mobil Corporation for most of my career, my last assignment involved overseeing our corporate policy and compliance for environmental, health and safety. The entire staff was made up of engineers and technical people, taking me way out of my comfort zone. There were times when our staff was challenged when attempting to bring certain compliance issues to the attention of senior management. Although tempted by fear to back away from our findings, I prayed that the Lord would go before us. Interestingly, on every occasion when this happened the senior management of our company supported our findings and ordered changes in how things were being done.
When Jesus was calling Peter and Peter responded that he was a sinful man, Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid.” When the angels approached Zechariah, Mary, Joseph and the shepherds, on each occasion they said, “Do not be afraid.” At the Last Supper, Jesus said to all of the disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”
St. John Paul II opened his pontificate with the words, “Be not afraid!” He went on to say, “These are not words said into a void. They are simply the words of Christ himself. Do not be afraid of God who became man!”
Are you moved by fear and doubt when facing adversity or do you ask the Lord to go before you? Jesus says, “Do not be afraid.”