“‘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 10:29-31)
Fear. It really is an odd feeling, this sensation that disaster is imminent, hovering right over your head, ready to drop on you at any moment and steal something infinitely precious to you. We’ve all experienced it at some point. Even the heroes of the Bible were frequently admonished not to fear before they followed God’s lead into a dangerous place. But how can we not be afraid? There are so many things that could go wrong in any given situation; how do we not give in to our fear?
Jacob, also known as Israel, was well acquainted with this emotion. After he cheated his brother Esau out of his blessing, he fled for his life to his uncle’s house. For twenty years, he evaded Esau, gathering wealth for himself and his growing family. But one day, God told him it was time to go home. Jacob obeyed, but as he drew closer to his destination, he started to worry. When he left home, Esau had claimed he would never forgive him. For all Jacob knew, this was still Esau’s mindset. He could very well be marching to his death.
Eventually, Jacob brought his concerns before God. He reminded Him that going home was His idea, and that God had promised to do him good. Then he continued, “‘Please deliver me from the hand of my brother … for I fear him…. But you said, “I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.”’” (Genesis 32:11-12) He was honest about his fears, and then he reminded God of what He had promised him. Remembering those promises, he found the courage he needed to meet his brother the next day. And when that moment came, he was shocked to learn that there was actually nothing to fear—Esau had forgiven him and now welcomed him home.
When we look at everything going on in our lives, it can be hard not to be afraid. Maybe you’re not fearing for your life, but even little things can cause anxiety. We know that God has promised to work all things for good for those who love Him, but how can this situation possibly turn into anything good? How can we find peace and courage in the middle of our fear?
The answer is still the same today as it was for Jacob. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus reminds us that we are precious to God, to the extent that He knows the number of hairs on our head. He looks after every single thing on earth, valuing them all as His creations. And the thing is, we as humans are the very pinnacle of His creation. He loved us enough to die for us, and He really does want only our best. So even when He brings us into frightening situations, we don’t have to be afraid. Like Jacob, we can remember the promises He has made to us. We can remember that He is watching us and taking care of us. And in that knowledge, we can receive courage. God Himself is leading us; what then do we have to fear?