Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:26-31)
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:1-3)
Last Saturday, like many other people, Rob and I attended a fireworks display. Very conveniently for us we had one in our village. It had been three years since the last time, this usually annual event, had been able to take place so there was much anticipation around the village. If you recall, the weather on Saturday afternoon was not good, it rained, was rather cold and altogether miserable. I watched, from the warmth and comfort of our house, as those who were setting up the fireworks display walked back and forth from the field, where the fireworks were being set up, getting very wet. Thankfully by the evening the rain had stopped and as the time approached for the firework display to start, groups of families and friends started to head towards the playing field where we would all be watching from, which is next to the field where the fireworks were.
Rob and I stood in the playing field surrounded by families with small children waiting to watch the display. We had been told that the fireworks that were being used this year would be less noisy than previous years so as not to scare the pets and livestock around the village. Some of the fireworks were indeed very quiet, they were simply fountains of colour reaching up towards the sky. But some, and these seemed to be the ones that people enjoyed the most, made quite a bit of noise. They started by going silently up into the sky and then went bang which was followed by cascades of sparkles falling towards the earth. Other, also rather noisy fireworks seemed to squeal as they spun through the air. The noise of these much louder fireworks frightened some of the children. Around us could be heard the sound of parents reassuring their children that there was nothing to be frightened of because they were with them.
Jesus tells us in Matthew’s gospel that we must become like little children. The little children at the fireworks display did not understand that there was nothing to fear from the fireworks, they did not appreciate with an adult’s understanding that they were a long way away from them and we were therefore very safe. The parents did not try to explain the logistics of the situation to their children, instead what they told them was that they had nothing to fear because they were with them. This to me seemed to say something about our own faith and the way we need to respond to God. Sometimes when we are afraid or confused or lacking understanding of a situation, we want to be told by God why it is that we have nothing to fear, we want an explanation, but instead what God says to us is do not fear because I am with you. It is that childlike faith of trusting a parent who says that there is nothing to fear without the need for an explanation that we need.
There are times when I try to demand from God an explanation of what is or isn’t happening, but maybe it is not within my understanding to comprehend the reason at this time and maybe what I need to do instead is simply remember that God my Father is with me and so I do not need to be afraid.
Father God, I am your child; help me to trust in you and not be afraid, whatever the future may hold.