Don't Be Afraid

Saturday, July 2, 2022
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Listen while you read: "Come Thou Almighty King"1 (Lyrics)

John 6:18-21 – A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified. But he said to them, "It is I; don't be afraid." Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading. (NIV)

I don't know anyone right now who isn't worried about the future because of the war in Ukraine. We're all hoping and praying that it doesn't escalate because it's the nearest we've been to a nuclear conflict since the 1960s. The threat of such destructive hostility is hampering our recovery from COVID-19. Just when we thought that we could get back to normal, we're faced with another dangerous issue.

The fear that we're carrying within us is both stressful and exhausting. We're getting through each day as best as we can, but we just don't know what tomorrow will bring. Most of us have probably given up watching the news and cocoon ourselves by binge-watching favourite movies or some new series just to allow our minds to escape from what's happening in the world. Everything seems to be up in the air, and, as Bob Dylan once prophetically sang, the answer is blowing in the wind. When will we ever learn, indeed!

As I personally reflect on this, I think about God's timing. Here we are at a time when our churches are at last being opened fully, in the midst of another European war, and an impending global storm. Our sanctuaries have always been safe places in times of unrest, so is God inviting us back to gather together in Christ's presence, so that we can support one another and get through this bewildering time?

Just like the disciples of old, we've been rowing hard on our own to get through these rough waters and fearful waves, but we haven't made any headway. We need Christ to come alongside us and get into this rocky and leaky boat that we call church in order to find the strength, peace, and calm that we all need.

As we struggle with our present difficulties, it seems to me that Christ is calling all of us to clamber back onboard His ship and trust Him to set the course through these troubled times. His reassuring words are given to us to extinguish our fears: "It is I; don't be afraid."

Don't be alone any more, using up all of your strength and carrying all of your burdens on your own. Come back to church, wherever you are, and let Jesus comfort and strengthen you.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for calling us into Your Body, the church. May we all find there the fellowship, comfort, and support that we so desperately need. Amen.

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John Stuart <>
Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Well said, John.

    Amen, John. To God be the glory. Blessings.

    Glad to find you here since you were not at your home site.

    Your devotionals speak to me more than any others. Thank you for taking

    A great big Amen to your prayers John. May your post reach many in these unsettling times. God bless!

    Excellent devotional. I feel the same way. I think God is trying to send us a message. How long will it take to register with us?

    YES, John! The story of the apostles and Christ in the boat in the storm is a wonderful parallel for us today. Grateful for the reminder and your setting out how it all went down. Blessings.

    A precious word in overdue season. Thank you. Our country and hearts have wandered so far from Him we are no longer “one nation UNDER GOD”. How long will He continue to bless?

    John, thank you for the stabilizing thoughts. My husband and I were just talking about these things you wrote yesterday. I find myself working on more writing because I have become unfeeling to the news. Too much going on, but God is holding us, as he allows what he allows.

    Thank you, John, for another special devotional. Yes, it is so wonderful that we can gather again together in the church and pray together, especially at this time when so many parts of our world are in need of in-depth prayer.
    Blessings for your writings.

    Hi John,
    How true! Church gives me fellowship, comfort, and support. I don’t know where I’d be without it. When Jesus is in the midst our fears are calmed and our hearts encouraged.
    Hope all is well with you and your family. These are strange times indeed but I’m so grateful for all the blessings God continues to send.
    Thank you and blessings.

    Good morning, sir,
    What you wrote is exactly what we have been thinking and talking about. Mt wife figures we should not watch the news, it upsets me too much, but I can’t not watch it and it does upset me. I just can’t figure out why human beings do this to each other.
    I pray every day that the Lord would speak to the hearts of those who have the ability to stop this insanity. Meanwhile…
    Thank you for your good words.

    Good morning, John,
    A very good message for the world at this time. I do remember the feelings of the Cold War in the 60’s. I don’t have the experience of living through the World War as my parents did. I do know the feeling of the uncertainty during the pandemic. I lost a brother to COVID 19 in the first month and it still upsets me at times.
    We need to be reminded often that God is our comfort and support, and He is always there walking with us if we seek him.
    May many people hear your message and respond to gain His support and to give support to others. Blessings.

    Hello John Stuart
    Like you, I too feel our churches should be a sanctuary in difficult times, but they must also be the most caring and safest places in society for all people. However, for people like me church attendance in person is far too risky in many churches because Covid precautions are not taken. Even if governments do away with mandates for vaccination, masking and distancing, churches should at the very least keep mandates for masking and distancing to make our sanctuaries and church activities safe for every person in society to attend and to demonstrate care for every person.
    Instead of being the safest and most caring places in society, many churches are the opposite and in fact they are very high-risk settings. Why? Because anti-vaccers and children too young to be vaccinated attend, most people are not wearing masks – even though public health recommends that masks should be still worn in indoor public places, no distancing is happening, people are singing heartily filling indoor airspace with their breath – much more is emitted through singing – and also greeting others with hugs and kisses.
    So attending church is impossible for many vulnerable people but of all places in society the church should care for the vulnerable more than any other organization. Who are society’s vulnerable during the Covid pandemic? – the elderly over 60, the immunocompromised, those who have other high risk medical conditions, unvaccinated children, those undergoing cancer therapy.
    I am a high-risk person for Covid because of a lung condition. I don’t expect every place in society will remain safe for vulnerable people, but I did expect the church to care enough about vulnerable people to choose to keep masking and distancing mandates in place, so that vulnerable people could attend. I and some of my friends feel the church has abandoned vulnerable people like us. We have not left the church, rather it has left us.
    I would suggest that before encouraging people to return to church that you first encourage all congregations to care about vulnerable people in society by maintaining masking and distancing mandates so that all people can attend safely
    Thank you for considering us who are vulnerable and at high risk.

    Hello John,
    Thank you for sharing your story “Don’t be Afraid” in the PresbyCan Daily Devotionals. Thank you for the reminder that Jesus is always “with” us, in us — whatever we are doing, wherever we are — He is with us.

    Dear John,
    Thank you for sharing your story and hardships in the “Don’t Be Afraid” PresbyCan Daily Devotional. You are right; we are all in some degree worried and it is at times difficult to stay focused on our faith; but this is exactly what we need to do.
    A few things stood out for me. You mention that the “destructive hostility (i.e. the Ukraine war) is hampering our recovery from Covid-19”. In your words, I can hear the frustration you are carrying. This alone will make you ill. Try to separate these two things. When we were in the most critical time of Covid in 2020 and 2021, indeed the news was overwhelming.
    The Ukraine war is indeed worrisome and it is difficult to avoid the news about it. All we can do is pray and pray and pray. “The fears that we’re carrying within us are both stressful and exhausting.” Remember, you don’t need to carry this burden alone. God doesn’t want us to carry such burdens.
    Meditate in prayer for God to lift these fears from you; that you can no longer carry them by yourself.
    It is indeed sad that there is so much turmoil going on all over the world at the same time. For us who cannot do anything about it but be at the receiving end of the news, perhaps we’re being tested on how well we handle it. How well we can keep evil from overwhelming us. Stay focused on your faith John.
    “We need Christ to come alongside us…” Remember He is always WITH us. Through the Holy Spirit in us, He is always WITH us.
    Find sanctuary in your own words, “…in Christ’s presence…we can support one another…”, and “Don’t be alone any more…carrying all of your burdens on your own.”
    I leave you with these scriptures:
    Psalm 55:22 Turn your burdens over to the LORD, and he will take care of you.
    1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
    Blessings to you John and thank you again.

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