Isaiah 8:11-12 - For the LORD spoke thus to me with His strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: "Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread."
Some people so fear the number 13 that they actually develop an allergy to it. This psychosomatic reaction is termed "triskaidekaphobia."
Superstition goes back to times before Julius Caesar. He employed soothsayers to give him advice. They predicted future political trends "scientifically"—by reading pig entrails. Today's politicians consult public opinion polls, survey after survey, and any other method they can use to get their finger on the "pulse of the people."
A truly superstitious person would refuse to run for president in certain years under any circumstances. Consider these presidents and the years in which they were elected: Harrison, 1840. Lincoln, 1860. Garfield, 1880. McKinley, 1900. Harding, 1920. Roosevelt, 1940. Kennedy, 1960. They were elected at 20-year intervals, and each died in office. I wonder if psychologists have a name for the fear of being elected president in any year divisible by 20.
Superstitions often arise as the result of people trying to wrest control over seemingly unmanageable situations. The Black Death and polio were held in dreadful awe until sanitation and vaccinations against these diseases brought them under control.
Headlines about financial unstableness or political shenanigans in the halls of government or the threat of terrorism all give rise to fear and the superstitions that attend our worst nightmares. Satan must chuckle anytime we assume ourselves to be masterminding our lives. He surely delights in seeing us squirm as he tricks us into playing the "What if ...?" game about events beyond our immediate control.
Isaiah spoke to Israel at a time of upheaval and confusion. He told them, "For the LORD spoke thus to me with His strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: 'Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, Him you shall honor as holy. Let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread. And He will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken'" (Isaiah 8:11-15).
For those without Christ, losing control is a serious thing, putting their lives in the balance. As believers in Jesus' sacrifice on our behalf, we have sanctuary. When misconceptions cloud our vision and troubling concerns seek to rob us of the peace God has given us through His Son, we have the knowledge that God's strong hand will be upon us, and with His strong Word He will give us courage and the strength to press on.
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, when we are pressed on all sides by fears and irrational worries, draw us next to You, giving us the peace and sanctuary we have in Jesus. In His Name. Amen.
From The Lutheran Layman, April 1980 issue, "Knock on Wood" by Jane Fryar
1. Are there things you are superstitious about? If so, do you care to share what your reasons are?
2. Have you ever followed a crowd mentality and later asked yourself why it was you did that? What were your answers?
3. How does Christ offer sanctuary against all the things that can upset and unsettle us?
To Download Devotion MP3 to your computer, right click here and select "Save Link As" or "Save Target As" or "Download Linked File As"