Christmas — What’s Fear Got To Do With It?

We don’t usually associate Christmas with fear. We associate it with joy and the celebration of Christ’s miraculous birth.

And yet this year’s Christmas finds us living at an unusually fearful time, with the pandemic continuing to wreak havoc with people’s health and livelihoods. 

So it may come as a helpful reminder that fear—and God’s comforting counsel in the midst of fear—played central roles in the first Christmas. (I was reminded of this in a wonderful Christmas letter from my friend and mentor, Dick Towner, and his wife, Sibyl.)

When Mary was greeted by an angel, at first she was “greatly troubled…and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.” But the angel told her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” – Luke 1:29-33

When Joseph found out Mary was pregnant, knowing he was not the father, “he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” – Matthew 1:19-21

On the night of Jesus’ birth, an angel appeared to a group of shepherds, which terrified them. “But the angel said to then, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” – Luke 2:10-11

Isn’t it interesting that there was so much fear surrounding Jesus’ birth? I’m not sure that I’ve ever fully appreciated that.

Are you dealing with some type of fear right now? If so, my encouragement to you is to: 

  • Bring your concerns to God through prayer.

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” – 1 Peter 5:7

  • Bring your concerns to others.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

  • Study, meditate on, and memorize the Truth of God’s Word on fear. 

“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” – Joshua 1:8

Earlier this year I found myself all wound up in fear. Nothing was wrong. My family, health, and job were all fine. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that something bad was going to happen.

So I did all that I just suggested. I regularly told God in prayer I was taking Him up on His amazing offer to cast my cares on Him. I talked about my fears with my wife and some good friends. And I studied what the Scriptures say about fear with the help of some great studies about the topic on the YouVersion app. 

I can’t say that I don’t experience fear anymore. But I’m in a far better place with it now, and all of those steps helped.

My encouragement for all of us this year is to celebrate as we usually do, that because of God’s unimaginable love for us, He sent his Son to teach us in person by word and example how to live, and to offer us the undeserved gift of eternal life. And let’s remember the name Isaiah used when prophesying about Jesus’ birth, a name that reminds us of a Truth that seems especially important right now.

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” – Isaiah 7:14

Immanuel. God with us. 

From my family to yours, blessings to you for an extra meaningful Christmas celebration this year.

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6 Responses to Christmas — What’s Fear Got To Do With It?

  1. Barbara Good December 22, 2020 at 4:45 PM #

    Another “do not be afraid” related to the Christmas story is in Luke 1. An angel appreared to
    Zechariah one day when he was serving God in the Temple. The angel told Zechariah that his
    wife will bear a son and he is to name him John. John the Baptist would prepare the people
    for the coming of the Lord.

    • Matt Bell December 22, 2020 at 7:40 PM #

      Thanks, Barbara. That’s a good addition, and also a good lesson on the importance of believing God!

  2. Jerry Jennings December 22, 2020 at 1:21 PM #

    your honesty about your own fear and recommendations for mitigation are wonderful – and filled with the spirit of Christmas. thank you for this gift!

    • Matt Bell December 22, 2020 at 1:48 PM #

      Really appreciate your feedback, Jerry!

  3. John Onufrock December 22, 2020 at 10:08 AM #

    VERY encouraging words, Matt. Thank you.

    • Matt Bell December 22, 2020 at 12:16 PM #

      Glad to hear that they resonated, John. Merry Christmas!

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