Do Not Be Afraid
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. Luke 1:29-30 (NIV)
When I’m feeling anxious or fearful, the last thing I want to hear is, “Why are you so anxious?” Or, “Remember, fear is not of God!” The truth is there are legitimate fears and false fears. To fear a poisonous snake is a legitimate fear. To fear whether I can trust God with my life is a false fear. In the book of Luke, we are told the circumstances surrounding the birth announcement of Jesus. Mary, a young virgin who had plans to marry Joseph, is told she will soon be pregnant, but the father of her child is not Joseph. The announcement by the angel Gabriel caused Mary to have legitimate fear so he knew he first needed to tell her why she had nothing to fear. If you read Luke 1:28, the angel’s first words were, “Greetings you are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” When tragedy hits or our circumstances are so overwhelming that the only thing we feel is fear, we need to remember the words of Gabriel. Why are Gabriel’s words so important to us? Because Mary is not the only person favored by God. I realize we have not been chosen to be the mother of Jesus, but we have been chosen to be God’s children. Because God sent His Son to be born of a woman, we have been given the full right to be called His child. Therefore, we have found favor with God.
As His children, we can call Him Abba, Father. I find it so interesting that the angel God sent to announce the birth of Jesus is the same angel whose primary job is to stand in His presence. Can you imagine what it must be like to continuously stand in the presence of God? No wonder Gabriel had no hesitation when he proclaimed man has nothing to fear! Obviously, the announcement of Mary’s pregnancy would have created an enormous amount of fear for any young, virgin girl. But Gabriel knew God was sitting on His throne—in total control—and would take full responsibility for the outcome.
I’m sure Gabriel is still standing in the presence of God waiting for the announcement of Christ’s second coming to rescue God’s favored children. Until then, we can enter into His presence and cast our anxieties on Him. There is nothing that can happen to us that God cannot handle. And if God has allowed the circumstances, He will take full responsibility of the outcome.
When we find ourselves faced with an unexpected situation which causes us to fear, we need to replace the fear with a prayer for strength to handle whatever God has asked us to do. Depending on what is going on in your life, your fear may appear to be legitimate. That is if you didn’t have God as your Father. Mary was facing the possibility of persecution and possible death. Who wouldn’t be afraid? If we only look at our circumstances, we may feel we have a lot to fear. But if we listen to and believe the angel who stands continuously in the presence of God, we will surely come to agree with him; we are favored by God and have nothing to fear. Mary did not know what Gabriel wholly understood: his news would bring honor to her. Mary was instrumental in an event that changed the entire course of history. And it was Mary’s surrender to God’s plan that provides hope for us when we face what appears to be an impossible situation. At the time, Mary may not have understood the impact of her obedience. And I believe we aren’t able to ever fully know the impact of our own obedience. Especially when we are asked to trust God when it seems impossible to do so.
Don’t forget that Gabriel assured Mary she had nothing to fear when he delivered the news of her pregnancy! In reality, she faced the task of telling Joseph and her family she was pregnant. And on top of that, she was forced to leave her home. Mary made a choice to trust God through Gabriel’s words. Perhaps you are facing a situation in your life where you do not see any way out without facing hardship. Are you in the midst of a situation where you feel you have no control over the outcome and your choice is to trust God or live in fear of what might happen? Gabriel’s confidence came because he stood in the presence of God, and God said not to fear! Maybe if we could see into heaven and stand before a holy God, we wouldn’t struggle with fear either. Then again, we are given the privilege of bowing before a holy God and giving our fear directly to Him. I believe if we spent more time on our knees in prayer we would be quicker to say, “There’s nothing to fear,” when our feelings tell us we have everything to fear.
The story of Mary is not about Mary or Gabriel. The Christmas story is about our God who gives us hope by sending His messenger to say, “Do not fear; you are favored by God.” You may not feel favored by God, but you are! God’s favor came the day Jesus came to earth. His birth and His death allow us to call Him Father. And like a perfect Father, He protects and watches over His children. Mary chose to die to her plans and surrender to God’s plan. We may struggle momentarily with fear when we are called to surrender to the plans God has for us. But when we let go of the things we fear of losing, we gain the peace that outweighs the cost of letting go. And at the moment of letting go we will realize there is nothing the world can give us that will bring more peace than the peace of surrendering to the plans of God.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” We have found favor with God; we have nothing to fear!
Further ReadingLuke 1:26-45; Isaiah 9:6; Galatians 4; Revelation 1:17-18