As 2019 came to a close, I saw many people encouraging us to identify a “Word for 2020.” If you are not familiar, the idea is essentially the same as New Year Resolutions. Instead of a resolution, the “word of the year” could be a guiding word, maybe even a prayer for the year.
I closed 2019 by reading through the Gospel of Luke. Not intentionally looking for a word, I began to see the recurring phrase, “Do not be afraid” or some synonymous phrase.
According to my reading, we read in Luke . . .
- To Zechariah, “Do not be afraid, because your prayer has been heard.” (1:13)
- To Mary, “Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God.” (1:30)
- To the Shepherds, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is Messiah, the Lord.” (2:10-11)
- To Simon, Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid, from now on you will be catching people.” (5:10)
- To a Synagogue leader with a sick daughter, Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid. Only believe, and she will be saved.” (8:50)
- To the disciples, Jesus said, “Don’t fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will show you the one to fear: Fear him who has authority to throw people into hell after death. Yes, I say to you, this is the one to fear!” (12:4-5)
- To the disciples, Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (12:7)
- To the disciples, Jesus said, “Don’t worry about how you should defend yourselves or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you at the very hour what must be said.” (12:11-12)
- To the disciples, Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid, little flock, because your Father delights to give you the kingdom.” (12:32)
I have thought in recent days how tumultuous 2020 will potentially be. Our nation shows no promise of being able to handle a presidential election with any kind of courtesy or civility toward those who disagree. Christians who ought to set the example of how to hold such discussions are no better at this than unbelievers. (I regret to have to write that sentence.) Now, as 2020 dawns, tensions have boiled over in the Middle East leading some to already predict World War. These national and global crises mean nothing to the personal crises of addiction, divorce, terminal illness, and the like that have greeted some as this New Year dawns.
So, these are the words that I am entering 2020 with in my heart: “Don’t be afraid!” I am not going to be afraid because . . .
The One True God, the God of this universe, hears my prayer.
I, too, have found favor with God. I don’t deserve his favor, but I am doomed without His favor.
The greatest news of all-time has been revealed. We have a Savior, and His name is Jesus!
Jesus has brought not only salvation to me, but now has given me purpose in life by making that salvation known to others. And, along with that purpose in life, He gives me power to “catch people” or to be His witness.
He has the power to heal the sick even those sick unto death.
Even those who seek to kill do not have power over God.
We matter to Him.
He gives us words to say even in the most difficult experiences of life.
He is working to bring about His Kingdom which will have no end and is making us a part of that Kingdom.
I may need to be reminded somewhere along the way in 2020 to not be afraid, but I don’t think there is a better word or few words for us than these: Don’t be afraid!