“Do not be afraid.” (Matthew 10:26)

If Jesus were to ask you to do something, as he did when he sent his apostles out to preach and heal, it wouldn’t be unusual to find yourself suddenly afraid. Fear is a natural reaction.

Maybe you’re afraid because you’re having a hard time under­standing what he is asking of you. Or maybe you understand just enough to see potential difficulties or unpleasant consequences. Maybe you feel unprepared and unquali­fied, and so you are afraid you’ll fail the Lord or make a fool of yourself. In all these responses, we see fear challenging faith.

If this describes you, then you’re in good company! Consider Moses (Exodus 4:10; 13), Mary (Luke 1:30), Joseph (Matthew 1:20; 2:22), and the shepherds (Luke 2:10). Think about Peter, James, and John (Matthew 17:5-7), and the other disciples (John 14:27). That’s a pretty impressive group of people!

Some fear, of course, is a gift of the Holy Spirit, like the awe and reverence we experience when we sense the holiness and majesty of God. But most of the time, our fear is the ordinary anxiety we feel when we are faced with the unknown or the unfamiliar.

Jesus knows that. He knows our hearts, and he still loves us! And so, repeating it three times, he tells the Twelve: Do not be afraid! You are beloved and infinitely precious to the Father. Not a sparrow falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge, and you are worth far more than sparrows. Every hair on your head is numbered (Matthew 10:29-31). There’s no real reason to be afraid when he speaks. He wants to reassure and encourage you, not condemn you. He wants to tell you how eager and excited he is to entrust you with a mission for the sake of his church.

God loves you with overflowing love unstained by self-interest and undiminished by your imperfections. Yes, sometimes his words cause fear. But that’s when to run toward him, not away. Crawl into his lap and tell him about it. Let his love wash over you. Ask him to drive fear away and assure you that all is well.

“Father, I want to fulfill your plan for me, but sometimes I’m afraid. Fill me with your love today. Let it wash away every hesitation and concern that holds me back from responding wholeheartedly to you.”

Isaiah 6:1-8; Psalm 93:1-2, 5