Do not be afraid . . . , for I am with you.

God spoke these words to the apostle Paul in a vision he had while he was in Corinth. Paul had barely escaped death several times, and his life in Corinth would not be trouble-free. But the Lord encouraged him to settle down for an extended stay with this young church without fear because “I am with you” (Acts 18:10). Not long after, as he stood before the tribunal in Corinth, Paul surely had to remember the Lord’s promise to him in order to remain peaceful!

Again and again in Scripture, we find this stirring message: “Do not be afraid.” Often, God says it to someone he’s calling to take up a new challenge: when he invited Abraham to enter into a covenant with him, when he called Moses to rescue his people from slavery, when he anointed Isaiah as a prophet, and when he chose Mary to bear the Messiah and chose Joseph to protect the holy infant.

Most of these individuals reacted as we probably would: “Who, me?” Or even, “Not me! There must be some mistake.”

But God’s response is always the same: “Do not fear: I am with you; do not be anxious: I am your God” (Isaiah 41:10). Our shortcomings are real, but they aren’t the final word. God promises that his power can be made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

We might feel afraid when we focus on unfamiliar circumstances or looming challenges. But that fear subsides as we remember the goodness and power of God. Yes, Jesus promises that one day we will see him again (John 16:22). But even now, he is with us. He has promised to remain with us, and he is able to handle anything that we face.

We can find joy and encouragement in Jesus’ presence with us through the Scriptures, through the Eucharist, and in one another. Like Paul, we can recall what Jesus has done in our lives and all the ways he has reassured us. We can fix our eyes on him and know that he is with us. And that can dispel our fear.

“Jesus, help me to know you are with me.”

Psalm 47:2-7
John 16:20-23
Acts 18:9-18


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