In the course of events throughout my life, I have come to realize that God must have a sense of humor. I have an unofficially diagnosed condition called ornithophobia, an irrational fear of birds. The reason I concur that God has a sense of humor is because He has chosen to allow circumstances to place me in alarmingly close proximity with the feathered fiends. There was that time when we brought our Christmas tree into the house and swept a little bird in with us. There was also the time that a window at church was left open on a Sunday morning and a bird flew in and spent most of the worship service perched on a ceiling fan.
And now there is the ‘nightmare’ I face that every morning as I am awakened by birds perpetually perched upon my bedroom window ledge. To add to my heightened awareness of my fears, we are also dealing with a mamma bird, with her two eggs, nesting just outside our flower box and staring at me. I can rationally reconcile in my mind that I will not be dive bombed by a hawk, but there is something in my mind that is still at work reminding me to be afraid.
After the resurrection account found in John and the eyewitness testimony of a number of women, the closest followers of Jesus should have been overjoyed. However, the truth was they were together with the doors locked because they were afraid – afraid that they would be next, afraid that they were alone, afraid that they were unprepared for what was to come next. Twice that evening and once again the following Sunday Jesus tells them the same thing: “Peace be with you!”
19… Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” … 21Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you!” … 26A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” John 20:19-26 (NIV)
God knows the fears we face; some are irrational (like my fear of birds) and some are real (like the disciples’ fear of the leaders of their day). God also knows what we need when we face fears of any kind – peace. This peace that the Lord promises is more than an absence of conflict (the antithesis of war); it is the warmth of contentment and well-being even in the midst of the storm.
We all have things that fill us with fear – death, disaster, public speaking – and we all have access to the one who can dispel all that fear – the Lord Jesus. The great hope for life on this side of the empty tomb is that Jesus has conquered all that makes us afraid. He has afforded us victory over Satan’s wiles, sin’s influence and death’s sting. He has given us peace, His perfect peace.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 (NIV)