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 He placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”  Rev. 1:17-18

Lord Jesus, on this hurricane-marked Sunday in September, knowing, “Do not be afraid“, is the most repeated command in the Bible is oxygen to our hearts, but it can also be confusing. O the night of your birth, angels spoke this hope to startled shepherds; on the morn of your resurrection, you declared the same to a devastated Mary. And to John, facing a "hurricane" named Rome, you brought the same consoling words. Now you speak these life-shaping words to our hearts: “Do not be afraid!”

But Lord, we are afraid. Properties and businesses are being destroyed; whole islands and cities are being devastated; families are being displaced and lives are being lost. We know you're not asking us to pretend, be naïve, or foolish. And we're grateful you're not commanding us to not feel something--namely, fear... as though the emotion of fear is sinful. Thank you.

Our response to you is this: As with John, put your hand on us, Jesus. Make your presence more real to us than this storm. Because we are afraid, we will put our trust in you--like right now. We know you cannot be more near to us than you are in the gospel. But we want you to be real to us in this hurricane ... by the power of your Holy Spirit.

Because you’re the First and the Last, we know we don't, ultimately, have to be afraid of anything between your resurrection and return. Because you're the Living One--who was dead and now alive, we don’t have to be afraid of Judgment Day.

You constantly sing this truth over us: “I am your righteousness and peace, your Good Shepherd and impassioned Bridegroom. A banner of love flies over you, I greatly delight in you, and I'm coming back for you.” Again, thank you.

And because you "hold the keys of death and Hades," we can also trust you on this day with the high winds and storm surges. Help us, Lord. Indeed, put your hand on us, Jesus... and on this storm. We pray for Florida, and we pray for ourselves. "So very Amen," we declare, in your loving and powerful name.

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Scotty Smith

Scotty Smith is the founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. You can follow him on Twitter.

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