Job 23: 16 God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me.
I feel sorry for Job. He was living at a time when people believed that personal pain and suffering occurred because God was angry with them. This meant that any tragedy was clouded with a terrifying fear that God was punishing the people. Any illness or sickness, any setback or obstacle was seen a sign of God’s wrath. Only repentance and sacrifice would suffice to appease God. Only humility and contrition would placate the Almighty.
Thank God then that we are New Testament people! We are no longer bound by those primeval fears. Christ has come into the world to tell us not to be afraid. Christ has given the ultimate sacrifice for all of our mistakes and sins. The threat of divine punishment is no longer to be dreaded. Instead of being terrified of God, we are attracted to Him through the love and grace of Jesus Christ.
Out of the 6.5 billion people on this planet, about 5 billion live under the religious fear of God’s wrath. They are terrified of plagues and famines, wars and earthquakes, floods and disasters. They are anxious about offending God and worry over the smallest of mistakes. They constantly spend their resources on appeasing false gods and try to buy divine blessings. Christianity, however, has a real message of hope for all of these people who are plagued by superstition: Do not be afraid and be of good cheer.
In this pre-season of Christmas that we call Advent, we should constantly pray for the world to be open to Christ’s message of goodwill, forgiveness, and peace. It has the potential to save the entire world from its fears and to lovingly restore everyone to God’s favor and blessings. If only Job knew way back then what we know now, he would never have been driven to despair through his fear of God. He could have been comforted, embraced, and encouraged by God through the presence of Jesus Christ in his life.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we all carry hopes and fears in our hearts and minds. We pray that You will diminish our anxieties by graciously responding to our concerns. Guard us and guide us. Embrace us and bless us. In Your Holy Name, we confidently pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. He enjoys reading your reflections.