I Am Afraid

By Inés Velásquez-McBryde

May 16, 2020

But immediately, Jesus spoke to them saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Matthew 14:27 (NASB)


Jesus was worn out. His cousin John had been decapitated by the state in an unjust turn of affairs because truth-telling can get you killed. So he withdrew himself in a boat to a secluded place to grieve his death. About 5000 men plus women and children followed him. They were hungry. He fed them with five loaves and two fish.

Jesus was worn out. He sent the crowds away and went up to the mountain by himself to pray. Jesus lives in the tension of work-life balance: personal grief and day-job tasks, from crisis to problem-solving crisis—much like we live today, glued to the news, going to work with fears of this invisible virus, or staying and working from home. Jesus seeks the face of the Father in midst of these crises.

Something happens between the mountain and the sea that propels Jesus from a place of pain to a place of power. Nobody had ever walked nor seen a human walk on water before. Maybe I should be patient with the terrified disciples in the boat who think they see a ghost. The boat was being battered by the waves and the wind was contrary. Additionally, it was dark. It’s hard to recognize Jesus when you can’t see clearly in the dark before dawn. They cried out in fear. I find myself afraid, too. Afraid of not knowing. Afraid of not seeing. Afraid of the losses. Afraid of the hard leadership decisions. Afraid that Jesus is nowhere to be seen at certain times of the day, like before dawn. Afraid of not knowing when the waves will stop battering our global family. Afraid that this curve won’t flatten and fall.

Fear comes in waves. Who needs to hear the simple words of Jesus, “Do not be afraid,” if it isn’t women and men that are afraid? Jesus names and normalizes the feeling of fear and those associated with it. The disciples are afraid together. They aren’t alone in their fears! What a comfort that brings me today on week 9 of this lockdown! Jesus came to them in their fears. Jesus initiates contact and conversation as they’re being battered by the waves.

Tomorrow I am leading a workshop for students, staff and faculty on Grieving and Growing. Do you know what one of the slides includes? A list of feelings and fears that could be associated with us in this storm. It is the fourth webinar that I have taught in the last few weeks to faith, community, and workplace leaders. Another leadership step that I have learned to acknowledge is to listen to my fears. God has access to me through my feelings and fears.  It feels like the fourth watch of the night and we are worn out under the weight of this sustained grief. It is here where I begin to see Jesus already walking towards me.

Take courage. It is I. Do not be afraid.

I will keep repeating this to you all until we are out of the waves: We are in this together. You are not alone.

Something to Think About:

The first task of grief is to name the feelings and fears. That restless feeling has a name. Sit with your grief and fears. Name it.

What daily or weekly spiritual practices can you do today to help you name and release fears, anxieties, and worries?

Something to Do:

Revisit your self-care schedule. What is working? What is not working? What causes anxiety? What brings you joy? What do you need to add or subtract from your life? Don’t be afraid to make changes in order to find a realistic, sustainable rhythm of life.


Jesus, you who have authority over the wind and the waves, you who walk on water and the waves obey your voice. Speak peace to our fears and come to us, for the waves threaten to consume our bodies and souls. Jesus, we are battered by unending and uncertain news. Jesus, we have lost friends and family, lost jobs and income, lost peace and sleep. We cry out to you as you welcome our fears and speak to our fears. When fears arise within our chest, may your voice speak to the wind and the waves. Grant us peace and a good night’s sleep. Amen.

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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High
Calling Archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project
. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: What’s Your Storm?

Inés Velásquez-McBryde

Chaplain at Fuller Theological Seminary & Pastor, Preacher, Speaker

Inés is an ordained pastor, preacher, reconciler, writer, and speaker. We are pleased to feature Inés as a regular Life for Leaders writer. On June 15, 2019, Inés received her Master of Divinity degree from the School of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary where she now serves as...

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