I was feeling good. My classes had gone well so far, things felt fine between my fiancé and me. After my last study hall for the morning, I clocked out for my break and opened Yahoo to check my email.
And saw, “Breaking News: Active Shooter in San Bernardino, CA.”
With beating heart, I clicked and read. The situation was still unfolding—multiple casualties, possibly multiple shooters, at a center for helping the disabled only about an hour away. Less than that from where my sister is at college. I watched live footage of scanning cameras, running police officers, evacuees with their hands in the air, victims being rolled to ambulances on gurneys.
Then I learned that the shooters had left the location in a black SUV, for an unknown destination. They could even be near our campus by now, for all I knew. Did we need to take precautions with our high school students? Did I need to contact my sister?
I talked to another teacher, and emailed the principal, who had received no danger alert for our school. So we just waited, and prayed for all the hurting families and first responders involved.
It can be a scary world we live in today. Mass shootings that are starting to seem normal…terrorism that seems ever-spreading round the world. Refugees fleeing violence in their homelands and hoping to find a place to lay their heads. We really don’t know what each day might bring forth.
But then, have we ever?
The world being scary is not a new thing. The world Jesus was born into was very scary. It was easy to get on the wrong side of the government and end up in prison or on a cross. Mary and Joseph had to flee with little Jesus to escape horrific slaughter of children by King Herod. As a friend of mine recently pointed out in his post here, as a child Jesus Himself was a Middle Eastern refugee.
And yet, in the face of such things, it seems almost every key player in the Christmas story was told not to be afraid.
“Do not be afraid, Zechariah…”
“Do not be afraid, Mary…”
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid…”
“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid…’”
Apparently it’s a pretty scary thing to have an angel show up in front of you. But I think it was more than that. They had plenty to be afraid of…Mary, Joseph, the shepherds. They were humble people, at the bottom of the social ladder, part of an oppressed and conquered ethnic group, and caught in extraordinary and sometimes dangerous circumstances.
But the angels didn’t say, “Because we won’t hurt you” or “Because nothing will go wrong.” What they basically said each time was, “Don’t be afraid…because God is doing something.”
“…for your petition has been heard.” (Luke 1:13)
“…for you have found favor with God.” (Luke 1:30)
“…for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:20)
“…for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)
And I think that is what has comforted me more than anything lately, when I start to be afraid…which I do sometimes. But even while it seems lately the Enemy’s troops are running rampant, God is on the move even more.
I’ve been hearing from multiple sources how all over the world right now, people of various backgrounds and ages and nationalities are gathering in concerted prayer for revival, a worldwide movement of prayer such as we haven’t seen in some time. And whenever in history we have seen it, it has been followed by a great move of God, like the surge of missions in the 20th century that followed the prayer and revival in places from Wales to Los Angeles in the early 1900s.
Our God is on the move. He entered this dark and broken world, Light incarnate as a baby 2,000 years ago, and He is with us still. He will not be overcome. And if we belong to Him, neither will we.
So, with Zechariah, Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds, let’s not be afraid.