Have you heard the popular song, “Don’t worry, be happy” or the phrase “don’t worry it’s really not that bad – everything will get better.” Are these words of encouragement or could this be denial of the pain and reality, the stifling down of emotions?
Thinking about these responses got me wandering. John had just experienced the earth-shattering, heaven-opening baptism of Jesus. He was blessed with the task of heralding the coming Kingdom – yet was thrown into prison. Jesus’ ministry and the fulfilment of all John the Baptist’ dreams of the coming Messiah had occurred. But we go on to read that immediately after hearing His Father’s affirmation, Jesus is sent by the very same Spirit into the wilderness of temptation and suffering.
Jesus and John were faithful and knew the writings of the bible. In prison and in the wilderness, two places of real suffering, both men recalled the words “Do not fear; I will help you”. God did not rescue Jesus from the temptations of the Evil One. He gave Him the power to resist. God did not open Herod’s prison doors so John could escape and continue ministry. Instead, the Tetrarch Herod ordered John’s head to be presented on a platter for the cruel enjoyment of his guests.
Just as John and Jesus, it is in all places; the Jordan River, at home, in the wilderness, on our jobs or in the prisons, that we hear the words “Do not fear; I will help you.” As the Apostle Paul described it, it is in every circumstance and in everything, we are to “make our request known to God.” He goes on to say, “God’s peace shall be yours”, that tranquil state of mind through Christ Jesus. Our real God comes in the midst of real pain.
“…at once the Spirit sent Him (Jesus) out into the wilderness…” Mark 1:12
“(Herod) locked John up in prison.” Luke 3:20
“I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13
Yahweh, thank You that even when all others leave and abandon me, You remain.
Thank You that even when the ones I thought would be around forever choose to go, I can trust that you will stand with me. Father, I come to You with my cares and my worries concerning this trial I am facing. Would You remind me that I am not alone? Would You tell me that you care about this and its outcome? Father, I thank You for standing with me, and I receive your strength to stand another day. Thank you that I can trust you to rescue me from this and every trial I will face in this life. In Christ’s name Amen.