Advent 13 - Do Not Fear

DAY 13 - Do Not Fear
Luke 1:29-33

There are many reasons why we don’t feel joy. But one of them is fear. Luke says, “Mary was greatly troubled.” She’s confused and disturbed, maybe even afraid. Why else would the angel say, “Do not be afraid?” Angels routinely provoke fear in the Bible.

But look carefully. Mary’s troubled about the message more than the messenger. “God is with you, Mary! God favors you. You’re overflowing with God’s grace! You’ll overflow with joy, too!”

This is good news, right?

Maybe Mary’s afraid this is too good to be true. Maybe she’s used to bad news. Maybe we are, too. We’re hardwired to look for threats we can avoid. One psychotherapist says, “Bad news can excite our nervous system.” That creates an addictive loop, so we keep 24-hour TV news on all the time. We doomscroll social media. We share questionably true stories that validate our worst fears. “Too good to be true” kills joy.

Maybe Mary’s not uncertain the good news is real. Maybe she’s actually afraid of good news. It’s possible to fear good things happening. There’s a mental health condition called cherophobia, an irrational fear of being happy. One of the symptoms is “rejecting opportunities that could lead to positive life changes due to fear that something bad will follow.”

Are you ever afraid of good news? What if we hide our fear with pleasure, just constantly seeking a dopamine rush? What if we medicate our fear with alcohol, pills, cannabis, or constant screen time? What if we chase away good news with cliches like, “I’m just a realist?” What if we’re so used to the routines of dysfunction we fear the change of a healthy relationship? What if we’re not sure how to feel good? What if we’re afraid of joy?

“Do not fear” is one of the most often spoken messages from God in all Scripture. God offers us joy but we have to confront our fear of joy.

What fear keeps you from joy?

Almighty God, you have made us and all things to serve you, now prepare the world for your rule.
Come quickly to save us, so that wars and violence shall end, and your children may live in peace, honoring one another with justice and love; through Jesus Christ, who lives in power with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. AMEN

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