Do Not Be Afraid
by Sharon Betters
Be still, and know that I am God.
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Jesus never calls us to a place of serving without also equipping us. In John 14 we see Him preparing His motley crew of disciples for His absence. Their marching orders terrify and anger some of them. He reassures them that when He is physically absent, the Comforter, the Holy Spirit will teach them and remind them of His Words and instructions. This must have been a terribly mystifying and frightening season for these rough and often uncouth men. We live in scary times as well. There is such comfort in knowing that Christ’s promises to them, are Christ’s promises for us, too.
My friend, Sherry, experienced this supernatural comfort when a medical diagnosis forced her to retire from her job as founder and principal of two Christian Schools. We called Sherry the Energizer Bunny because she seemed tireless in her oversight of the schools. Now, she found herself at home, adjusting to a new normal. Sherry’s theology demanded she find a new way to offer others the joy of knowing and loving Jesus.
A Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis slammed the book shut on a ministry position I loved. Notice I said “book” not “chapter” because as the Multiple Sclerosis symptoms worsened, my life as I knew it was over. My career was not just a job, it was my platform for ministry. It was my heart. I loved going to work every day. Parallel to the goal of offering a quality education in the homeschooling and traditional schools, was my primary objection of reflecting Jesus to the students and staff. No longer able to maintain the fast pace of leading these schools, I wondered if God was finished working through me. As I struggled, learning to manage this “new normal” for my life, I prayed constantly: I don’t think You want me to stop serving You, I won’t be controlled by what I cannot do, show me what I can do. I listened to every sermon, every Bible study and read every Scripture through the grid of that prayer.
One evening in our Community Group we were challenged to discover the ONE ANOTHER verses in Scripture. Was this the Lord directing my steps? This was an easy assignment. I had already put them together for the children several years before. There they were, saved on my computer. As I reviewed these familiar passages, the message was clear: This one anothering ministry is for you now.
John 13:34 - Love one another
Romans 14:19 – Pursue the building up of one another
1 Corinthians 12:25 – Care for one another
Galatians 5:13 – Serve one another through love
Galatians 6:2 – Bear one another’s burdens
My mind started racing as the names of lifelong girlfriends came to mind:
a friend that recently lost a daughter
a friend that was a widow
a pastor’s wife in a small church that needed a friend outside of her congregation
a former neighbor whose MS had rendered her housebound
While my life needed to move much slower, I could still visit with my friends. My spirit lifted as I realized God’s intimate love for me in specifically directing my steps through His Word. With calendar in hand, I began making the phone calls, scheduling dates to meet. We set dates for the following month. “Catching up” filled our times together. We learned what prayer needs we were taking before the Lord. Sometimes we ran errands together. We looked forward to the reserved dates on the calendar. Through our simple conversations, God’s love and care for His children filled their souls and mine!
Our calling is to be avenues of compassion that help turn broken hearts toward Jesus. As the Comforter, it’s the Holy Spirit’s task to piece together broken hearts. There is great freedom in knowing that we are one of God’s emissaries, bringing His message of help and hope. How do we know what to do and say as His emissaries? Accept the privilege of opening His Word with a genuine expectation that He will open our hearts and eyes to His directions as we fall more in love with Him.
How are your experiencing the wonderful, delightful comfort of God’s Word as you encourage your hurting friend or need encouragement yourself? Take care of your own soul by soaking in His Word and you’ll be ready to offer the help and hope of Jesus to those who live in your village.
Lord, thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit who comforts us and cultivates Your peace in our hearts. Show us how to experience more of that comfort as we pray and watch for Your direction through Your Word.
STORE UP MORE TREASURES
At some point in our lives, we or someone we know will go through great suffering. I encourage you to go the MARKINC website and listen to the audio resource titled “Vietnam: We Remember” so that you can store up treasures of encouragement for the next rainy day in your life or someone else's. Here is a summary and teaser of this resource:
Total American Lives Lost in Vietnam: 58,253. As of 1973 Missing In Action and Prisoners of War: 2, 646. As of 2010 – 1,698 MIA/POW are still unaccounted for. The average infantry saw 240 days of combat in one year. The average age of a G.I. in ‘Nam was 19 years. Each one represents a man or woman and their families who have lived with the consequences of unresolved stress and anguish over the excruciating sacrifice our country made for a war America did not win.