A woman woke up and told her husband, ‘I just had a dream that you gave me a pearl necklace for Valentine’s Day. What do you think it means?’ Her husband replied, ‘You’ll know tonight.’ That evening, the man came home with a small package and gave it to his wife. Delighted, she opened it to find a book entitled, 'How to InterpretDreams'.
Hopes raised and hopes dashed. It happens all the time. How do we cope? Maybe in my introduction, a good ‘heart-to-heart’ was needed with her husband. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn’t. What does it do to us when talking doesn’t work? If you are already struggling with a low sense of your value, that would further dent it. When we doubt our value in life, that soon leads to fear.
The late advice columnist Ann Landers used to receive something like 10,000 letters a month. When asked what seems to be the most common topic, she answered that most people seem to be afraid of something. They are afraid of losing their health, job, or family. They are afraid of upsetting their neighbour, alienating a friend, or committing a social faux pas.
A devalued person is often an insecure person. Insecurity leads to fear. When events and circumstances seem to reinforce that inner fear, then those fears feel justified. Whether the worldwide pandemic or your personal circumstances, it is easy to become convinced that fear is the only reasonable response.
Some of the most frequent words on the lips of Jesus were ‘Fear not’ or ‘Don’t be afraid.’ He spoke those words to fearful, sometimes terrified, people. It is possible to know that we are so loved that we discover that, as one of Jesus’ disciples, John, wrote later from personal experience, ‘Perfect love drives out fear.’ When we know that Someone completely understands us and loves us just as we are, then we need not fear.
This year we celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. As a 13-year-old princess, she gave her father, King George IV, a poem that he read in his Christmas broadcast to the nation in 1939 at the beginning of perilous times. We may be familiar with these words, but we do well to remind ourselves of them as we go into this New Year:
I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year, ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be better than light and safer than a known way.’
Christmas has reminded us that we are not alone in this Universe. God Himself has entered the stream of humanity and loves us and wants to walk with us in whatever this year holds – but we have to let Him. He does not force His way in – He loves us too much for that. May we consciously turn to Him in trust and take the hand offered to us so we discover for ourselves the peace that comes from knowing we are truly loved.