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Do Not Be Afraid

This month marks the first anniversary of the publication of Sun Shine Down, Gillian Marchenko’s transparent memoir. In it, she tells about coming to terms with her third daughter’s diagnosis of Down syndrome, and her slow and reluctant falling in love with her baby girl. Today’s guest post celebrates Gillian’s daughter, the anniversary of Sun Shine Down, and the faithful presence of God in our troubles. At the bottom of the page, you’ll get the scoop on how to enter the give away for a copy of Gillian’s memoir.

Do Not Be Afraid

The phrase “Do not be afraid” is written in the Bible 365 times. That’s a daily reminder that God is in control! Whatever you a dealing with today, give it to Him and watch how God takes care of you.

A friend of mine posts this status on Facebook and it immediately gives me pause.

Although I’ve been to Bible college, I wasn’t aware that “do not be afraid’ is in the Bible 365 times. Wow. One for every day of the year. Amazing. My feet start to tingle and my face grows hot. I reread the sentences in awe.

“Thank you, God, for this,” I whisper.

Too often, as a parent of two girls with significant special needs (Polly has Down syndrome and a stroke and seizure disorder called Moyamoya. Evangeline has Down syndrome, too, and was diagnosed with autism just this last year), I let fear rule.

Truth be known, I’ve lived mostly afraid for the last eight years, ever since my ears first heard the words ‘Down syndrome.’ Since then there have been strokes, missed developmental milestones, seizures, brain surgeries, social regression, tonsils removed, vertebrae problems, biting, scratching, tears, and too many other situations and incidents to name. I learned quickly how to walk around with one foot elevated.

I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

‘Do not be afraid’ sends a wave of warmth through me. I decide right away to give it my own interpretation. I want to claim it as a promise from God. ‘Do not be afraid’ becomes ‘relax, nothing else is going to happen.’ ‘Do not be afraid’ means ‘enough bad and scary and difficult. Don’t worry about another shoe dropping.’ ‘Do not be afraid’, I imagine God saying, ‘I got this, and everything is going to be okay.’

Oh, how I love my interpretation. Oh, how I want ‘do not be afraid’ to mean those things.

But as follower of Christ, as someone who tries to read and understand scripture, as a person who wants to commune with God, I know better.

‘Do not be afraid’ isn’t in the Bible 365 times so a person will trust that nothing bad is going to happen to her family. Because this is life. We live in a fallen, broken world and bad stuff happens all the time.

365 days a year.

Some beloved verses in the Bible come to mind:

After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” –Genesis 15:1

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. –Deuteronomy 31:6

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. –Isaiah 41:10

These verse don’t claim nothing bad or difficult will happen. In fact, all kinds of bad things happened in Genesis, Deuteronomy, and Isaiah.

Instead, these verses tell us not to be afraid because no matter what comes, God is on our side. “I am your shield, your very great reward.” “For the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” “I will strengthen you and help you;”

Now, this is the correct interpretation.

As a mom to kids with special needs, more shoes will drop. It is just life.

But I am encouraged. I am not alone. God is with me. God is with my family. And because I get to be in his presence through the blood of his son Jesus, I don’t have to be afraid.

When bad things come, I don’t have to be afraid.

“Thank you, God, for this,” I whisper.

“Do not be afraid,” he answers.

Sun Shine Down Book Give Away

Do Not Be Afraid Sunshine DownDo Gillian’s words make you want to read her book? Then you are invited to enter the give way in which one reader will win the copy of Sun Shine Down Gillian is providing. Just leave a comment in the box below by midnight on Saturday, September 20, 2014 to be entered in the drawing. That’s all there is to it!