The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
I have always liked scary movies. There is something about watching individuals face something they are afraid of. It might be a monster, ghost, or some other entity that leaves them fighting for survival. Scary movies have a lot in common, like dark rooms, screams, running from something or someone, and dire situations. While watching such movies, I wonder how they are going to get out of the situation, for fear can cause you to react in a variety of ways. What do we do when we are fearful?
There is a lot of fear in the Bible. In fact, the phrase “do not be afraid” or some form of it is used quite often by God when addressing humanity. Whether it was Moses and the people of Israel standing before the Red Sea with Pharoah’s army chasing them down or Mary standing before the angel Gabriel, fear rises in the hearts of God’s people often. Hence, God is often speaking words of assurance to them.
God knows that our world can be a scary place. Life can turn dark in the blink of an eye and leave us shivering in fear of the darkness. No person is immune from such experiences. People with faith in God and people who don’t even believe in God encounter dark times. It is a given in a broken and sinful world. Fear happens.
Gabriel must have seen it in Mary’s eyes as he immediately tells her not to be afraid and reminds us again that she is favored. Gabriel sought to reassure her that even though the future seemed scary, she did not need to fear this future. She need not fear because she could step into that future believing that God was still in control.
We, too, step into uncertain futures. Fearful experiences can be just over the horizon, unbeknown to us. We never know what tomorrow might bring. But we do know who holds our tomorrows. Regardless of life’s fearful times, God is still upon God’s throne. The prophet Jeremiah would remind an exiled and fearful people of this truth when he said, “For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord. Plans for your welfare and for harm. To give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Mary would have a future and hope. So do we. Yes, there will be fearful times, and we will be afraid. Yet through it all, God continues to remind us, “Do not be afraid.”
Prayer: Lord, life can be scary. Help me trust in you when I am afraid and to live not in fear but in faith as Mary did.