I was a young boy walking home from baseball practice and noticed a shortcut through a neighbor’s back yard. There was a chicken coop, but I wasn’t concerned. “Chickens don’t bother anyone.” I knew these things because at the ripe old age of eight, I was cocky and fearless — and dumb.
Everything was fine, at first. The chickens saw me and scattered in every direction. All except for one colorful rooster. He stood his ground as if daring me to enter his territory. Our paths crossed, I stopped, and we both froze.
Suddenly, the rooster flew at my face. There was no time to think about the proper way to fend off a chicken attack, so I placed my baseball bat between the angry bird and me. The rooster hit the bat, dropped back to the ground and angrily stared at me. Now I was afraid. What would this crazy bird do next?
The answer came soon enough. Once again, the mad rooster flew at my face and again I shoved him back with my baseball bat. The staring contest resumed between us for at least another three hours. (Well, it seemed like three hours.) For a third time, the rooster flew at my face and again, I pushed him away. He seemed to shrug and walked away.
I cautiously took a few steps, then broke into a mad dash home crying and sobbing. That day, I vowed to God and my mother that I would never walk through backyard chicken coups again.
We all face scary circumstances occasionally. Some, as with my chickens are laughable. Others are very real, whether it’s losing a job, a trusted friend, facing sickness or even coping with death. There is fear of the unknown, fear of calamity, fear of people, fear of being misunderstood or rejected or criticized or forgotten or being mistreated. The question is not whether we are afraid? The question is “how will we cope with our fears?”
Recent events have certainly given us reasons to be afraid: COVAD-19 still rages throughout the country. Based on what we have learned so far, it is difficult to feel safe anywhere. The news about our economy is certainly scary. Anyone involved with our schools whether students, teachers, employees, or parents have good reasons to be afraid.
In Psalm 27, David had a lot to be fearful about, but he knew where to turn. “The LORD is my light and my salvation- so why should I be afraid? The LORD protects me from danger- so why should I tremble? When evil people come to destroy me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will know no fear.” (1-3)
“My heart will know no fear.” Another version says, I am confident. In Hebrew, confident means more than brave or self-reliant. It also means ‘to trust, to be secure.” In other words, the source of David’s confidence is not his strength but trust in God.
There are other passages in the Bible to help us deal with our fear:
- Deuteronomy 31:8: “He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
- Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
- Isaiah 43:1: “Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.”
- 1 John 4:18: “Perfect Love Casts Out All Fear”
- Psalm 18:2: “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer.”
- Psalm 27:1-3: Focus on God, not your fear.
- Deut. 31:8: God will never leave you.
- Romans 8: 28: Everything will work out when God is involved.
- Isaiah 4:31: You belong to God.
- 1 John 4:18: Focus on love and fear will be thrown out.
- Psalm 18:2: God is your rock.
Whatever your fears: chickens or COVID-19, imagined or real, we focus on God.
At the funeral for Congressman John Lewis, former President Barack Obama talked about courage. “John believed that in all of us, there exists the capacity for great courage, that in all of us there is a longing to do what’s right, that in all of us there is a willingness to love all people, and to extend to them their God-given rights to dignity and respect.”
John Lewis had great courage and he inspired so many others. We too have the capacity for great courage to do what is right and make a difference in our community and world. May God prepare and strengthen us to face the future with courage, dignity, love and hope.