Do not fear, for I am with you,
do not be afraid, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.
-Isaiah 41:10, NRSV
It was the third in a series of posters designed by the British government for the purposes of encouraging the British people during dark and worrying times — the “times” that became known as World War II, that is.
WILL BRING US VICTORY
the first poster read.
FREEDOM IS IN PERIL
DEFEND IT WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT
went the second.
These first two posters were widely printed and distributed throughout Britain. Yet for years, most did not know that a third poster, sharing the same design (a two-color poster with block lettering and a simplified graphic of the royal crown) was also in production.
Though millions of copies were printed, it was never widely distributed in the 1940s. Some believe it was held in reserve in anticipation of an even greater potential crisis — for example, an invasion of Nazi troops on British soil. Such an invasion never occurred, and the posters went unnoticed for decades (until a bookshop owner discovered an old copy in a box of books, or so the story goes).
Today, it’s the most widely-recognized, oft-quoted, and frequently-parodied of the three — particularly in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. “KEEP CALM AND WASH YOUR HANDS,” some current versions read. And others: “KEEP CALM AND SOCIAL DISTANCE”. Still others include the traditional language, but with a coronavirus graphic in place of the royal crown.
I admit: I’m quite a fan of this World-War-II-era poster. (A copy of it is even tucked in the front cover of my Bible.) I like that it doesn’t minimize threats and fears. It doesn’t say “KEEP CALM BECAUSE THERE’S NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT.” On the contrary, it implicitly acknowledges that there is something to worry about… but “CARRY ON” anyway.
I read this verse from Isaiah with a similar lens. Through Isaiah, God does not say, “Do not fear, because there’s nothing to be afraid of.” On the contrary, God says, “Do not fear, for I am with you“ (Isaiah 41:10, emphasis mine). Essentially, God is saying: Despite all there is to fear… I’m here. I’m with you. Keep calm.
During this coronavirus pandemic, this season of covid-tide, I need that reminder. Actually, I need both.
So keep calm and carry on, Wesley Church. Do not fear, for God is with you.
Our God is bigger than coronavirus.
Our vision is bigger than coronavirus, too.
We are people blessing people.
We are Wesley Church.
Want to know more?
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- View previous devotionals: https://wesleychurch.com/pastor-candys-devotionals-2/