The Scary Balloon
Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in exchange for your life. Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you; I will say to the north, "Give them up," and to the south, "Do not withhold; bring my sons from far away and my daughters from the end of the earth - everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made." Isaiah 43: 4-7 (NRSV)
J. Leland Collins is from Virginia. One day he was in the kitchen when suddenly he heard his young dog barking in another room. When he went to see what was going on, he found him staring at a "Happy Birthday" balloon attached to a vase of flowers on a table. The balloon was moving only slightly but enough to distress him. Something that I knew to be quite harmless had created much anxiety in him.
So it often is with situations that we do not fully understand. When J, Leland was a teenager, his father's heart attack loomed before him, filling him with the fear that he might die. Many years later his own heart attack filled him with similar apprehension about the future. Was He going to live? Would he be able to continue to work? What about his family?
J. Leland found great reassurance in his faith and in God's word and presence. In today's scripture reading a message of comfort and reassurance comes to the beleaguered Jewish exiles in Babylon. God assured them that he was with them still and working out all things for their ultimate good.
It is good to know that whatever our fearful situations - illness, loss of a job, financial struggles - all are opportunities to remember God's love for us and to receive God's grace and courage to move forward in Faith.
Prayer: Help us, heavenly Father, to release fear and reclaim faith in the face of trouble, trusting that you will see us through, in Jesus' name, amen.