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The serene final words of poet Seamus Heaney, to his wife Marie, were “Noli Temere”. Latin for ‘Do not be afraid’.

The Bible urges us in many places not to fear.

365 times!

As someone has astutely observed, once for every day of the year!

And one of those locations is Psalm 46 which begins with these words:-

God is our refuge and strength. A very present help in times of trouble. Therefore we will not fear.

The Bible acknowledges that there are any number of circumstances or situations that may well cause us anxiety and concern. That’s a given, but we are not left there to overcome our fears alone, or to cope with them out of our own inadequate resources.

The believer’s encouragement ‘not to be afraid’ is based not on our current circumstances, but upon the nature and the character of God. As he has helped us in the past, so he will also be with us in the present.

Some time ago when our family lived in Dublin, my wife had to go into St Vincent’s University Hospital. She wasn’t much looking forward to the experience. As we travelled over together in the car, Claire did an unusual thing. She started to sing! She was humming some words from a lovely song based on this particular Psalm. Psalm 46, which ends with these words:- “Be still and know that I am God.”

She entered the hospital and asked directions to the room she had to go to, but in her distraction, took a wrong turning and ended up facing the Hospital Chapel. Looking up, there inscribed over the door were these very words:-

“Be still and Know that I am God.” Psalm 46 v10.

An incredible reassurance that God had gone before her and had prepared the way.

Claire’s experience of God’s help in the past encourages us in the present not to be afraid, based not on our feelings but on the reliability of God who is always there. Who never slumbers and sleeps so that we can.

So, as we anticipate today with all its challenges and opportunities, may I then remind you again of these wonderful words from Psalm 46.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in times of trouble. Therefore we will not fear”. “Be still and know that I am God. The Lord Almighty is with us.

“Noli Temere” Do not be afraid.