One of the greatest messages in the Bible is that those who trust in the Lord and are a part of his plan have nothing to fear. Every time I read the Christmas story I’m impressed by the fact that the message of the angel always began with a “fear not”.
First, the angel Gabriel said to the priest Zechariah, “Fear not, Zechariah: for thy prayer is heard…” (Luke 1:13) Zechariah had been praying for a son. However it must have been quite a while since he had prayed that prayer because he doubted what the angel said since both he and his wife Elizabeth were old. I wonder how many years it had seemed like God had not heard his prayer. How many years had it been since he had given up on the idea of a son? When our prayers seem unanswered, perhaps it is because God is saying, “Wait”. In the meantime, while you are waiting on God, fear not.
Next the angel Gabriel was sent to a young girl named Mary. He said to her, “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God…” (Luke 1:30) He then told her how she was a part of God’s plan. How fascinating that being in God’s favor landed her out of favor with society. In those days being “with child” without a husband held a worse social stigma than it does today.
The angel of the Lord next came to Joseph, Mary’s fiancé. The angel said to him, “Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife…” (Matt. 1:20) Again, the message was “Fear not, you’re a part of God’s plan”. Again, being a part of God’s plan put Joseph in a tight spot socially.
Finally, the angel of the Lord appeared to the Shepherds. Again, the message was the same, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy… (Luke 2:10) The shepherds were just doing their job, watching their flocks. They were being faithful to their tasks. As we are faithfully serving the Lord, and surprises occur, or things that we don’t understand come along, I believe that if we listen with our hearts we can hear God’s message, “Fear not”.
There will be times when, like Zechariah, it will seem your prayers are unanswered. There may be times when, like Mary and Joseph you find yourself in situations where it seems that no one understands. There may even be times when, like the shepherds, you’re just doing your job and surprises come along. When these things happen remember the message of the angel: As God’s child you are a part of God’s plan and you need not fear.