Do not be afraid, I will fight for you: a meditation for calming anxiety

As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites looked back, and there were the Egyptians advancing on them. In great fear the Israelites cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?” But Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the LORD will accomplish for you today.”
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to go forward. But you lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the Israelites may go into the sea on dry ground.”
Exodus 14:10-11, 13-16

Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.”
Matthew 26:36, 39

We live in a broken world in which bad things really do happen, and when they do, we feel trapped. We feel everything is beyond our control. There seems to be no way to save ourselves or provide for our loved ones. Think of the level of panic, the sleepless nights, the tears that are shed when there is not one dollar more to pay for groceries, or rent, or daycare.

Both the Israelites and Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane on the night before he died cried out in fear. It isn’t wrong to feel fearful and overwhelmed, especially in distressing circumstances. Feeling anxious is not wrong. The experience of being uncertain or anxious and stressed forces us to realize we aren’t in control. And thus we “cry out.”

Even though the Israelites cried out to Moses in anger that he had put them in this predicament, God stood firm in his promise to free them from Egypt. “The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.” And he did. When we are afraid, angry, and ready to blame someone for the predicament we are in. God is still faithful.

Jesus in Gethsemane shows us how to face our fear, to name it. He spoke directly to his Father about what he was most afraid of, and how he wanted out of the situation. But he also declared fear a liar when he said his Father would care for him, no matter what happened. Ultimately the Father didn’t save Jesus from crucifixion and death, but through it, Jesus killed death’s power, defeating it by dying himself, and then rising as victor over it. He conquered that which we most deeply fear: losing our lives. He did so to “deliver all those who through fear or death were subject to lifelong slavery”—you and me.

Jesus Lord, help me to face my fears, to name my fears, to bring you my fears. Just as you conquered death, help me to conquer all the things that keep me separated from you and your love. I hold to your promise of deliverance and know that even in my darkest moments you are there with me. Amen.

A reflective pause

Write or tell the story of a time in which you faced a distressing situation with anxiety and discovered that you became stronger or blessed through what you suffered.

To tuck in with you tonight

I am at peace, knowing your love is faithful.

by Sr Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP

Image: Francesco Trevisani, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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