I was in my early 20's then, and had never been stung by a bee or a wasp. I immediately understood the Lord's meaning; I was terrified of the possibility of a sting and, as was not too unusual for me in those days, had developed an irrational fear; stinging insects terrified me. This promise gave me courage, and although I have had many close encounters with hornets and bees in the 40-some years since, I've never been stung. I believed the promise was literal, and lost my fear of stinging insects as a result. I have reached my mid-sixties and despite living in a rural area my entire life, gardening, and going on daily walks down country roads and across cow pastures, I have never been stung.
Not until the day before yesterday, that is.
I had walked out to my herb garden, unwisely scuffling through a patch of clover in full bloom while wearing flip-flops. What happened next has inspired several people to carefully explain to me that wearing flip-flops in a clover patch is unintelligent, particularly since my father-in-law is a beekeeper, and two active honeybee hives are stationed less than a quarter mile from our house.
I felt an agonizing stinging sensation in my foot. I ran a few yards away, kicked off my shoe, and hopping on one foot saw something that looked like a tiny black splinter at the site of the pain. I plucked it out, ran to the house, and immersed my foot in ice water. It was an effective treatment and the pain receded, although an itching, aching sensation has remained along with some minor swelling.
I didn't see the critter that stung me, but the fact that my husband counted a half dozen worker bees busily engaged in the clover patch I'd walked through lets us know that I have almost certainly received my very first bee sting. It occurs to me that the long ago promise has reversed itself; that during this latter portion of my life though I may be stung, I will no longer be frightened. There was no fear even as I felt a sensation somewhat like a hot needle being poked into my foot. I reacted, but I did not feel fear.
Most fear happens in anticipation of an event rather than as we undergo the trial itself.
A new promise of freedom from fear would be a blessed one.
I don't want to be stung, but the truth is, none of us escape bouts of physical discomfort in this life, and we do have to eventually pass through death. Fear is removed from the prospect of death when we remember that because of Christ, those who accept Him can view death as a doorway and not a destination. By His blood, our guilt has been atoned so that we are not under the law, but under grace. We may feel discomfort as a passing sting, but all our suffering is temporary. The Lord Himself has paved an escape for us, away from the suffering of our sinful, self-inflicted wounds. This knowledge alleviates fear.
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
--1 Corinthians 15:55-56