December 28, 2014
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For Your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39
This New Year may well find you facing fears that are left over from last year or which seem to loom in the unknown future of your tomorrows.
During World War II, a military governor met with General George Patton in Sicily.
When he praised Patton highly for his courage and bravery, the general replied, "Sir, I am not a brave man. The truth is I am an utter craven coward. I have never been within the sound of gunshot or in sight of battle in my whole life when I wasn't so scared that I had sweat in the palms of my hands." Years later, in his autobiography, the general said, "I learned very early in my life never to take counsel of my fears."
Now it occurs to me, if General Patton can admit he had his fears, most certainly we must confess we also have a certain lack of courage when we are confronted by fearful situations.
Such is our sinful human condition.
It is a condition only Jesus can successfully confront on our behalf. After all, only Jesus has shown He has the ability to defeat the devil. Only He can stop Satan and his sly suggestions, which lead us into sin.
Scripture tells us that of all the billions of people born into this world, only Jesus had the ability to say, "No!" to temptations, and only He has been able to conquer death. With those credentials, we must admit that only Jesus will be able to help us with our fears. This is precisely the point St. Paul was making in Romans when he said, when it comes to "tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril and sword," Jesus is our divinely given Helper.
But Paul's list wasn't complete. He listed other fearful things. Paul said there is fear that comes when death approaches and the fear daily life will bring. There are the fears which are brought about by unseen principalities and powers. There are fears which come to us in the present and those which will arrive in the future.
Human fears are numerous, and the situations that bring those fears are not totally avoidable.
But thankfully, by God's grace, there is also hope. Even as St. Paul was sure that fearful times would come, he was equally sure that nothing can separate us from the love of God, which is ours in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Indeed, looking to the Bethlehem manger, the Jerusalem cross, and the borrowed and empty tomb, the apostle assures us, against all these fears we will emerge victorious because in Christ, "we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us."
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, in this coming New Year there will be many good times and bad times, happy times and sad. There will also be fearful times. Grant that Jesus may be by my side during all those times. In His Name I ask it. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries