Scripture Reading: Joshua 1:9

Let us begin today’s reflection with the words of Pope Francis “With the gift of fortitude (courage) the Holy Spirit frees the soil of our heart from torpor (inactivity), uncertainties and all the fears that can stop it, so that the word of God can be put into practice, in an authentic and joyful way.” As we continue our reflection on Psalm 23, the Psalmist in Verse 4 declares: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil.” Dear friends, the shepherd does not only lead the sheep beside still waters, but can take his sheep along the darkest valley, and the sheep need to be courageous and not be afraid of the terror and pestilences that stacks in darkness. The sheep needs courage in order to walk pass the darkest valleys of daily life, even when it is dangerous and frightening. The sheep needs courage not much to fight as to fight, a sheep by its nature is one of the weakest farm animal. In the presence of a devouring lion, the sheep needs courage not to fight the lion but it needs courage to trust the shepherd that the shepherd will fight and defend it against the foes. 2 Chronicles 20:15 says “Do not fear or be dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God’s.”  It takes more courage to trust the loving care and protection of the shepherd in the presences of the devouring lion. According to St. Thomas Aquinas “The principal act of courage is to endure and withstand dangers doggedly rather than to attack them.” We like sheep are helpless and weak; unless the Lord our Shepherd fights for us we cannot emerge victorious against the enemies.

Courage means strength of heart, it doesn’t mean absence of fear or anxieties rather it is the inner strength to overcome your fear. To be courageous means to have value in your heart that is stronger than your fear.

When the flock is feeding and the sheep hears the roaring of the lion as it comes out from the mountainside, all the sheep needs to do is to make sure that the shepherd is close by. When the sheep is sure that the shepherd is standing by its side, it continues eating, leaving the lion to the shepherd to handle. However, it takes courage for the sheep to trust the shepherd. How often do we allow frightening dangers of life to interrupt our feeding in green pasture? How often do we allow the presence of the enemies to push us out of the presence of our Shepherd? How many believers have deserted the Lord, because of the problems of life? How often do we allow the experiences of the darkest valley to destroy our trust in the power of Jesus our Shepherd to protect and defend us. How much faith has been lost because of lack of courage to trust the ability of the Shepherd? We failed to understand according to St. Teresa of Avila, that: “To have courage for whatever comes in life – everything lies in that”. We put our lives at greater risk when we allow fear to condition us. We live in a fear-driven world, and the tragedy of this fear is that it has swallowed up a lot of Christians.

Beloved why should our heart be filled with fear? To the storm-tossed disciples on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus the Shepherd says, “It is I; do not be afraid” (John 6:20), to the sheep afraid of death, Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and life.” In the face of dangers all that the sheep needs to do is to have the courage to trust the shepherd, with the shepherd by it side there is no need for fear. Remember, the words of the little girl: “The Lord is my shepherd that is all I want.”

Prayer points:

  1. Take a worship song as you are led.
  2. Ask God for pardon for the times you have allowed fear to rule your life
  3. Take this prayer for courage: Dear Jesus my Shepherd, give me courage to overcome my fears, to stand firm in my faith, to live in accordance with your Word, to walk the path of truth and love even when it is dangerous. Grant me courage to have a dogged trust in your care and protection over me even in the midst of darkest situation.
  4. Since you are my Shepherd, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil in the name of Jesus – Amen
  5. Pray against every spirit of fear in your life
  6. Thank God for prayers answered

Exercise: Take sometime today to meditate on the evil spirit of FEAR and pray against it seriously.

Memory Verse: Deuteronomy 31:6