McFarland

Wednesday Meditations by Pastor Tim

Light a candle

Read Psalm 27:1-6

Faith, Not Fear

The words of U.S President Franklin Roosevelt come to mind during this coronavirus pandemic: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” He spoke those words in his First Inaugural Address in 1933 in the depths of the Great Depression.

Our fears are real during this pandemic. Our fears about getting COVID-19 or about passing the virus to loved ones. Our fears about being isolated and alone. Our fears about losing our jobs, livelihoods and communities.

Yet Roosevelt’s words remind us that even though we are afraid, fear cannot bring us together and solve the problems we face. Fear is divisive and splits us apart. During this time, we need hope and connection through our common humanity, and to work together for the good and well-being of the whole planet.

Psalm 27 begins with these hope-filled words: “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (v. 1) The Hebrew words for “light” and “fear” sound very similar. This wordplay shows that we often have two responses in the midst of difficulties—fear or faith. While faith does not spare us from experiencing loss and hardship, it does equip us to live with courage and hope in challenging times.

Faith helps us to see God’s presence and love in new ways. Faith helps us to that even though we are physically apart, we are connected through our shared baptism and through prayer. The psalmist reminds us that we can lean on God’s sheltering presence, because God has given us a home that can never be taken away.

Though we experience fears as human beings, we live in the light of God’s hope, and in the promise of God’s well-being for all creation.

The final verse of Psalm 27 helps us to anchor our lives—in a time of uncertainty—in the steadfast love of God. “Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage.” (v. 14) Be strong, dear friends, and take courage. We trust that God’s hope is stronger than fear, God’s love overcomes death.

Reflection Questions

1) Does any part of Ezekiel’s story resonate with your personal story or current reality? If so, how?

2) What activities and practices help strengthen your faith right now as you “socially distance” or “cocoon” yourself from others?

3) In Wisconsin, we are just beginning the season of spring. As you look out your window or go on a neighborhood walk, what signs of spring move around you? How does the increasing daylight provide hope, courage and strength for you?

Prayer

Let us pray. God of hope, we thank you for the light of your presence and the promise of your salvation during this challenging time in our world and nation. You know our fears and struggles, and yet you promise to remain with us always. Help us to trust that you are near and give courage to face our fears. Strengthen our hearts. Strengthen the hands of those who provide healing and care for the sick, the vulnerable, and all you have made. In the hope of your Son’s gracious love, we pray. Amen.