Lectionary reading for 12/11/2021: Isaiah 12:2-6; Amos 9:8-15; Luke 1:57-66
Selected passage for reflection: Isaiah 12:2-6
Isaiah 12:2-6 New International Version
2 “Behold, God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.”
3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. 4 And you will say in that day:
“Give thanks to the Lord,
call upon his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples,
proclaim that his name is exalted.
5 “Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be made known in all the earth.
6 Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”
The phrase “Do not be afraid.” is one of the most frequently repeated phrases in scripture. And for good reason. Daily life brings with it what can feel like a never-ending list of worries. Just trying to compose a sentence listing examples of anxieties that I have entertained this year has me spiraling. Do I start with my giant cataclysmic fears? Climate disasters. Nuclear attacks. Mass shootings. More Pandemics. What about my personal fears: What if I get sick and can’t work and lose my medical coverage and amass crippling debt just trying to stay alive? What if my fiance dies or gets into a debilitating accident? What if the housing market never stabilizes and we can never buy a home? What if we suck at marriage? What if we can’t have children? What if we do have children and they become drug addicts or rapists!?
I’m not sure if everyone catastrophizes on this level, but I have a pretty active imagination, so the list of hypothetical fears that regularly slip into my mind is long and sometimes outlandish (don’t even get me started on my bed bug phobia...). Still, in our fallen world, none of my fears are completely irrational. Life is full of pain, full of possibilities for suffering, full of worst-case scenarios to dread. Bed bugs are real and terrifying, so are the consequences of climate change. Trying to grapple with the broken pieces of our country’s housing and healthcare systems is a waking nightmare for millions of people. And even if none of my wild and specific fears come true, life is sure to throw some other unexpected suffering my way. So how do I cope? How do we manage, in a world full of pain, to trust and not be afraid?
The key for me is in the final line of Isaiah 12: “For great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” There is no promise here that we will not encounter suffering, no promise that things will all work out perfectly. We are simply reminded that God is with us. Emmanuel in our midst.
This awareness is the key to transforming our perspective around fear. With the savior in our midst, our focus shifts: “with joy, [we] draw water from the well of salvation.” Like the woman who met Jesus at the well and was transformed by his promise of living water, our spirits are quenched with joy as our hearts are compelled away from fear and towards gratitude, praise, and trust.
Have you forgotten that God is with you? Take some time today to inventory some of the fears that have taken root in your mind and spirit. How does remembering that God is with you impact those fears? What would it look like for you to find joy as you draw water from the wells of salvation? How might you give thanks to the Lord today? What praises can you sing? Take some time to journal your answers to these prompts and see if you can sense God working in your heart to replace your fears with joy.
When you start to feel fears creeping in again, practice these breath prayers and return your focus to the truths found in Isaiah 12.
Inhale: God is my salvation;
Exhale: I will trust, and will not be afraid;
Inhale: The Lord God is my strength and my song,
Exhale: He has become my salvation.”
Inhale: With joy, I draw water
Exhale: From the wells of salvation
Inhale: I will shout and sing for joy
Exhale: For the Holy One is with me.
About the Author
Sarah Roquemore is a teacher, sometimes a writer, and always a daydreamer. She recently moved from Richmond, Virginia to Atlanta, Georgia, where she is finding her way through the wilderness of a new season and trying to remember to thank God for providing (gluten-free) daily bread along the way. She sporadically writes on her blog a few times a year, but definitely not so infrequently that she had to spend over ten minutes finding the url to share here: https://sarahoffscript.blogspot.com/