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I used to sing “Be Not Afraid,” in the shower as an anxious child. It was the one song that gave me great comfort, and every time I hear it, at Sunday Mass or at a funeral, I tear up. It never occurred to me that the last line of this song, “Come follow me, and I shall give you rest,” is exactly what was written at the base of the Jesus statue in the Hopkins building, where I experienced the first moment of hope after eighteen months of suicidal depression.
I don’t think I would have associated the two had not a gracious reader of my Guideposts piece (in which I described that moment in front of the Jesus statue) been so kind as to make a card for me with the Jesus statue on the front with the words “Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” A day later, when we sang the hymn at church, I realized the message of hope was connected: the words I sang as a scared girl and the promise of rest I needed as a depressed and worn-out mother.
In case some of you haven’t ever heard “Be Not Afraid,” here are the lyrics. I hope they give you comfort and consolation, as well.
Be Not Afraid
By Bob Dufford
You shall cross the barren desert,
but you shall not die of thirst.
You shall wander far in safety,
though you do not know the way.

You shall speak your words in foreign lands,
and all will understand,
You shall see the face of God and live.
Be not afraid,
I go before you always,
Come follow Me,
and I shall give you rest.
If you pass through raging waters
in the sea, you shall not drown.
If you walk amidst the burning flames,
you shall not be harmed.
If you stand before the pow’r of hell
and death is at your side,
know that I am with you, through it all
Be not afraid,
I go before you always,
Come follow Me,
and I shall give you rest.
Blessed are your poor,
for the Kingdom shall be theirs.
Blest are you that weep and mourn,
for one day you shall laugh.
And if wicked men insult and hate you, all because of Me,
blessed, blessed are you!
Be not afraid,
I go before you always,
Come follow Me,
and I shall give you rest.

Originally published on Beyond Blue at

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Therese Borchard
I am a writer and chaplain trying to live a simple life in Annapolis, Maryland.

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7 Responses
  1. Tom Kluz

    My mother of 87 recently passed. She was a small woman who raised a family of three after losing her husband when she was a relatively young woman. So I know she dealt with anxiousness and uncertanty throughout her life but with strength and calmness. As the years progressed she would say I can’t believe I’m this old. I have good health. And she was active all her life even when the doctor said she had six months to a year to live. The tumors grew quickly at the end. She had lymphoma and it didn’t seem realistic to get chemo at 87. She said up until the end how lucky she was to have good health and how she couldn’t beleive she was 87. She suffered or as my sister and brother put it, she was fortunate to have dimentia as it seemed to be a way for her to cope with what she wasn’t totally if if ever even partially aware of. I was able to visit her a month before she passed. She had a great appetite and was still sweeping and dusting my bachelor brother’s home where she had been residing since the dimentia really started to kick in. But I always feared she would have her moments of clarity and would realize she was dying and it would be a shock. But i have a feeling my mother knew enough not to worry about things she couldn’t control. We get better at that as we grow old since we have less control over more things as we get older. But also we are blessed with wisdom to realize what the important things are and to not be overwhelmed by the relatively insignificant. But I prayed the words of this song for her as her passing drew nearer. For she was a good person who led a humble, simple loving, life who was embarking on the awsomeness of the existance beyond that none of the living can fully comprehend. So I would pray for her to be not afraid. You will see the face of God and live. To come follow him and He will give her rest. I know she is there but I still miss her until I am able to see her again like I know she is with those that have gone before her.

  2. Jesus Alexis Barreto Rincon

    Tom, I am just overwhelmed I will kiss every day my mom, and thanks for her great love for all of us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing loving experience, you had a miracle tonight.God bless you both.

  3. sarah

    When we were children we were in the church choir and this song “Be Not Afraid ” was one of my favorites and it would make me teary eyes, i dont know why. Then at the age of ten i was diagnosed with two inoperable rare brain tumors. They told my parents i only had 2 days to live, of course i didnt know this because my mind was already gone. But as i started coming back and asking what was going on and was told, and my dad was always telling me God is with you, God is with you, talk to him don’t be afraid, i remembered this song and i believed it. And then after six weeks of cruel chemo they were going to do an mri to see if it was working. My dad would say to pray to Jesus, and ask him please its either smaller or their gone. Well went and later the Dr came and said they had shrunk. My heart literally leaped out! I couldn’t believe God had actually listened to me. From that day on i was never afraid. Even when they told my dad there’s still a chance i wouldn’t make it. And as i look back now, i dont know why but in those times i felt so very close to God.

  4. Dear Therese,
    How I appreciate this blog and the song you recall that takes me back to my grade school days singing in church. And then as I grew up, matured, found myself emboldened by the ego and testosterone of a young man, I thought I could face it all on my own. And then one day, I realized how afraid of the results of the life I had created I was, and how I pleaded in private with Christ, The Divine of the Universe, or the power beyond anything I could achieve on my own, to please guide my life. To offer me the Yoke of Faith, and to make my paths straight again.
    It led me to launch a company committed to sharing the Light of Christ, in whomever and however people feel it, experience it, and share it lovingly with the world around them. As an enterpreneur, Fear comes up daily, and then I remember WHO I am really doing this for, and then the words begin to sing in my memories until the sweet words are passing over my lips. . . “Be Not Afraid, I GO before you Always. Come follow me, and I shall give you rest,” . . . And so it is. AMEN.

  5. Mary E Latela

    Dear Therese,

    You are one of many people I know whose “signature (or favorite) scripture” is the passage from Isaiah 43:1-7. with the corresponding hymn, “Be Not Afraid.” “Be not afraid. I go before you always. Come, follow me, and I will give you rest.”
    All those big and awful things we can imagine – they cannot hurt us, because we are never alone. Our Guide travels with us…. everywhere. Of course, our emotions can cause us to be scared, but our life experiences can teach us there are ups and downs. It’s very dark tonight, but it the morning, the sunrise is promised…. Blessings! Mary Latela