I can’t believe that as of this writing, we are experiencing a regional fuel shortage. It’s creating a mix of panic and anger, as people are clearly hoarding fuel, much like toilet paper was hoarded in the early days of the pandemic.
I am old enough to remember when this was a nationwide problem in the 1970’s. My mom would load my sister and me into the car, and we’d go get in line. I remember one time, the line was so long that I asked my mom where the gas station was. It was a crazy time. I remember when a rule about which letter or number ended a car’s license number, and that determined which day(s) you could get gas. And it was not unusual to get close to the pump only to have them run out of gas. Many people were frustrated.
Part of what fuels our feelings of panic is fear. Fear that we will run out; fear that right when we need it, there will be no fuel anywhere. What if there is an emergency of some kind?
This Sunday I am preaching on a well-known passage from Matthew’s gospel, where Jesus is walking on the water, Peter attempts to go to Jesus, and he ends up letting fear get the best of him, and he nearly drowns. It seems to fit well with what we are experiencing with this temporary gas shortage.
We will get through this. And don’t we usually? I am always struck by how easily we give in to fear and panic. For the Christian, fearing the calamities of the world should be a foreign idea. We serve a God who is Lord of all, who owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10). The scriptures have over a hundred places where the people of God are encouraged to “fear not.” In fact, that very sentiment is often stated in the imperative, which makes it much more of a command than a suggestion.
In Isaiah 41:10, God speaks these words through the prophet, to comfort Judah during a time of great fear and anxiety, “…fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Now that doesn’t necessarily mean that God will make life easy for us. It means that as we go through whatever we are facing, God will watch over us and protect us.
It’s extremely uncomfortable to imagine such a thing as a fuel shortage. But worse than that is imaging going through it without faith in Christ. For in Christ, we have the confidence that no matter how things are going, we can always trust in him.