Archive for the ‘Fear’ Category

Wait for the Joy

Weird School Bus

Weird School Bus (Photo credit: KB35)

A three-year old child just starting school was expected to ride the bus across campus to the building where her mother worked. Many children ride buses every day, but this was something totally foreign to her and caused much anxiety. As students were loading the bus, she walked right up to the door and then ran away screaming.

Finally her teacher took her by the hand and stepped onto the bus with her. She rode the bus to her destination without fear because the teacher she trusted walked with her through the situation that caused so much anxiety. When she stepped off the bus to meet her mother, she ran screaming with joy and glowing with excitement about what had been accomplished all because her loving teacher led her through it.

We often face frightening circumstances which leave us wanting to run the other direction to avoid the situation. Unfortunately it isn’t as easy as running away from the bus. Disappointment, grief, evil, and pain can strike at any time and can often cause us to feel hopeless because things are completely out of our control. There are no words to say, no instant fix, nothing left but to trust God.

Job was a man of integrity who feared God and avoided evil, but he still suffered many hardships. He lost his flocks, servants, children, and even his health. Things were so bad that his wife encouraged Job to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9). Yet he remained faithful and continued to praise God. To his wife he replied, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all of this, Job did not sin in what he said (Job 2:10).

Even though Job could not understand why God would allow these events in his life, he was confident that God would take care of him. However, there were times that he felt frustrated just as we sometimes do. He even complained and questioned God, but he never blamed God.

Job never got answers to his questions, but he became content with the understanding that through it all God had a plan. Finally, in Job 42:2-3, Job says, “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. And I was talking about things I did not understand, things far too wonderful for me.” During those moments in life when we don’t understand and want to just run away from the pain, grief, disappointment, and evil in the world, strive to continue praising God, remain faithful, and wait for the joy to come. 2 Corinthians 4:18 says, “We don’t look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.”

Whatever has you frozen in fear or running the other direction to escape, may be the very thing that God is waiting to take your hand and guide you through. If you will just trust Him, He will be with you for the duration of the ride, sitting right beside you, and getting you safely to the destination He has planned for you.

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Photo credits: flickr.com

 

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As each of four women stepped into my car, I found myself amazed by their compassion. Each woman was facing significant trials in her own life, yet making the time to pray with a friend facing the nightmare of possibly losing her baby.  All of these women from different backgrounds, experiencing a variety of trials, made the time to support another friend in need.

The first was dealing with painful health issues that just a few days before led to hospitalization.  The second young lady was struggling to be strong as a loved one battles cancer.  The third was stressed by the uncertainty of her job as fellow employees were being laid off due to financial insecurities of the business.  The last was heartbroken after the grandmother who raised her was admitted to a nursing home.

As we drove to a nearby town, I shared my surprise that they were able to make the time for this last-minute trip considering each of their circumstances.  They quickly reminded me of the trials in my own life at the moment.   We discussed each of our situations, shared concerns and fears, and encouraged one another.  We discovered that although our trials were very different, there was one key element in each.  The trials had caused each us to rely more on God.  Each situation is beyond our control, and all we can do is trust God’s will for our lives.  We were even able to laugh at how the same scripture keeps popping up in everything we read.  Isn’t it amazing that God used one verse to encourage a car full of crying, giggling women?  The scripture we came across for weeks prior to and following this night was Proverbs 3:5 which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

This trip was not about the women in my car, yet God used it to provide encouragement for each one.  Finally we reached our destination and as a group we prayed for our friend and her unborn baby with our hands on his mother’s stomach.  Specifically we prayed that the heart beat would be so strong that the doctor would be amazed by God’s power.  After a week of praying for this unborn child, we received the following message:

Praise The Lord!!! We got our MIRACLE. The baby’s heart rate has gone up to 174! The doctor has no explanation for it, but I do. It’s an answer to many many prayers!!!

I would like to tell you that the situation of every woman in my car that night has been resolved, but I can’t.   What I can say is that God is carrying each of us and our trials have helped us to rely on His strength rather than our own.  Isaiah 41:10 reminds us “do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Whatever you are going through, you can trust that God loves you and is right there with you through the darkest times. Isaiah 43:2 says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” 

Even though things may not happen as quickly or exactly the way you desire, trust that God has everything under control and has a plan specifically for you.  Jeremiah 29:11-13 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  Trust God, call out to Him, seek His will for your life, ask friends to pray, and finally put your hope in Him.

The Solid Rock by Edward Mote

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;

I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand,

All other ground is sinking sand.

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The Lord is with you, mighty warrior. Judges 6:12

Battles are raging all around. I see many friends struggling with the distress of situations that seem too much to bear.  These disheartening battles include cancer, heart disease, mental illness, financial difficulties, addictions, lawsuits, false accusations, broken families, and fighting an actual war. Our children aren’t even immune. Their struggles include peer pressure, eating disorders, bullies, anxiety, and even terminal illness. The list goes on and on.

The Israelites experienced many difficulties. In Judges chapter six, they faced oppression from the Midianites who, during a seven year period, often destroyed the crops, livestock, and homes of the Israelites. God appointed Gideon to deliver Israel from the hand of Midian, but Gideon was afraid and confused about how that was possible when his people were the weakest in the land. God assured him in verse 16: “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.”

We all have battles which God has called us to fight, but like Gideon, we can be certain that God is with us. Often we feel weak and think our struggles are more than we can bear. Realistically, without the strength that can only be given by God, we probably couldn’t handle such situations on our own. What a blessing to know that he will be with us through the battles of life.

Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you.”

It doesn’t matter what we are going through, God will give us the power to overcome it through His strength! Find courage today in knowing that God will be with you through the battles of life. You are a mighty warrior through Him!

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Faith in the Dark

Light in the night (Castelldefels)

As I sat reading, the lights flickered a time or two then went out completely.  The skies were clear that night. There wasn’t a storm or strong wind, yet for some strange reason I was suddenly sitting in complete darkness.  As I was feeling around for my cell phone, I heard a car door.  I quickly jumped from my chair and dashed for the window as images of movies flashed through my head.  The lights always go out on clear nights because someone has cut the line before intruding on the home!

I reach the window in time to see the interior light still shining inside the car which sat in the driveway.  There was just enough light in that short moment for me to recognize the car.  As the door knob was turning, I breathed a sigh of relief at the realization that my husband was home early from work.  Although he had formed a plan to surprise me, he had no intention of scaring me.  Yet my own fear of the dark caused my imagination to run wild.

Yes, I admit it.  I’m afraid of the dark.  I don’t like to drive at night because I can’t see what lies ahead.  I am only able to see that which is allowed by the glow of my headlights.  I want to see more.  Although it’s not how I prefer to drive, I have learned to trust that my headlights will provide just the amount of light that I need.

Unexpected events in our lives often leave us fumbling in the dark trying to find our way.  Fear causes our imaginations to run wild as we are unsure of what lies ahead.  We thought we knew the direction our life was going, but suddenly everything has changed.  We may not understand it, but God has a plan.  The path may not be lit brightly, but we can trust that He will provide just the amount of light that we need.  Just as I’ve learned to trust the headlights on my car, I’ve learned to trust God during the dark times of life.

Hebrews 11 provides many examples of people who have trusted God in the dark times of their lives.  Noah knew nothing of floods when God warned him that a flood would cover the earth, but  he built the ark as instructed and had faith that God would protect his family even though he had never seen rain (v.7).   The Israelites were running for their lives from the Egyptians when they reached the Red Sea, and there appeared to be no escape.  When God opened a passage of escape, they stepped out in faith onto dry land with walls of water on either side, and those trying to capture them drowned (v.29).

Hebrews goes on to tell of the faith of many others including Abraham who led the people to the promised land(v.8), Enoch who was taken straight to glory without experiencing death (v.5),  Sarah who conceived a child in old age (v.11),  and Moses parents who hid their baby  to avoid the king’s decree that
required baby Moses’ death (v.23).  The Book of Hebrews goes on and on with other stories of faith in dark times, times that surely caused great fear, times that triggered many questions and uncertainties.  Yet each of those listed, trusted that in those dark times, God had a plan and would provide just what they needed.

For faith to be present, action is required.  Each person listed in Hebrews stepped out in faith and obeyed God’s instruction.  We abandon all trust in what we can accomplish on our own and follow His lead instead.  Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  Darkness unexpectedly arises in our lives and we can’t see what lies ahead.  Faith means that we can trust that God is in control even in the darkness. He is the light in our darkness. 2 Corinthians 4:18 says, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  Faith is focusing on an eternal God rather than the temporary darkness.  In John 8:12, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  We can trust that He will provide just the amount of light that we need, but without faith we can only see the darkness.

Whatever darkness is challenging your faith today, step out in faith, and He will guide you through the dark.

 

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English: Ramsey Island: rough water near Trwyn...

When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown!  When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.  Isaiah 43:2

I can remember taking swimming lessons as a child.  In order to pass, we were required to jump off the diving board.  This terrified me, but it was the final step in proving we could swim.  I did not have a lot of confidence in my ability to accomplish this task.  Finally, the instructor swam out near where I would resurface after jumping and assured me that he would be there if I needed assistance.  The deep water terrified me, but knowing someone was there to save me if I could not make it on my own gave me the courage to complete the task.

Sometimes in life, things get so difficult you literally feel like you are drowning.  The more you struggle the deeper you seem to go.  Maybe things seem totally hopeless.  You try your best, but the situation just continues to get worse.  Isaiah 43:2 reminds us that no matter the battle, God is with us.  He will not let us drown in the raging river or be burned up by the fire.

Exodus 14:13 says, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still”.  In deep water sometimes you cannot tell which way it is to the surface.  It is a natural instinct to fight for your next breath, but if you will be still your body will typically begin to surface.  Our lives are the same way.  Sometimes, we just need to be still and let God fight for us.  Soon we will see the light begin to emerge at the surface of our problem as God fights for us.

What is the deep water in your life today?  Maybe it’s a relationship that seems to be crumbling at your feet, an addiction that controls your every thought, or financial difficulties that consume all your energy.  Whatever the struggle, God will be with you.  He will not let you drown!

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Overwhelmed?

Do you ever have moments when it seems as if your whole life has been turned upside down and you just don’t know if you can handle any more?  Sometimes life is overwhelming.

I recently found a garden snake in our elementary building. Considering that our students would be returning on Monday, I knew the snake had to be expelled from our school.  What seemed to be a fairly simple task became overwhelming when this harmless snake began trying to defend himself.  Although he was not venomous, he did a good job of convincing me that he wasn’t leaving without a fight.   I became overwhelmed by this aggressive little critter that repeatedly sprang at me the full length of his body.  I knew he wouldn’t hurt me, yet I just wasn’t sure I could even try anymore, so I finally called for help.  My husband came, made a quick capture, and calmed my racing heart.

Sometimes we get overwhelmed by the simple things in life which can be resolved easily, but often we are faced with moments which turn into days, months, or even years of being overwhelmed. Job demands, health issues, rebellious children, strained relationships, addictions, financial restraints, and so many other circumstances that may leave us feeling defeated.  Big or small, short-term or long-term, life is full of situations that stretch us emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

There are many examples in the Bible of people who were overwhelmed with their circumstances, from Martha who fretted over preparing a meal for Jesus to King David who feared for his life. So what can we do when life seems turned upside down for the moment, days, weeks, or even months and it feels like we just can’t handle any more?

Talk – We weren’t made to survive life alone.  After all, God made Eve because He saw that it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone.  Find someone who you trust that has been through a similar experience.  Sometimes just talking helps us feel better.  Most importantly, talk to God.  James 5:13 says, “Is anyone among you suffering?  Then let him pray.”  In Psalms 61:2 David said, “I will cry to you when my heart is overwhelmed.”  God hears when we cry out to Him.  He can provide shelter, peace, and comfort.

Trust – Abraham was surely overwhelmed in Genesis 22:1-14 when his faith was tested, yet he trusted God.  Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”  Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who give me strength.” We may not understand why situations happen in our life, but we can trust God to give us strength to endure.

Tackle It – In Genesis 6:13-22, God called Noah to build an ark so large that God had to close the door.  What an overwhelming job he had!  He didn’t just sit back and hope God would take care of it for him.  Noah jumped in and tackled the task as God led.  Ephesians 6:10 reminds us to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”  You can’t do it on your own, but He will give you the power to get through those overwhelming situations.

Time – Joseph struggled for thirteen years before seeing God’s plan fulfilled.  As a child Joseph had a dream that he would become a ruler.  His brothers sold him into slavery, then he went to prison for a crime he did not commit.  Eventually, he became the most influential person in the world. (Genesis 37-41)  It took a lot of time, but Joseph did not give up and continued to be faithful.  We only see the current circumstances, but God sees our future.  Hebrews 13:5 says, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”  Regardless of how long we are overwhelmed God will be there with us.

When life is overwhelming, and you feel like you just can’t take any more, remember to TALK to Him, TRUST Him, TACKLE IT with His strength, and allow TIME for God to work.  He loves you, and will see you through those moments when life seems turned upside down whether for the moment, days, weeks, months, or even years.

Related Articles:  Its OK Not to be OK (Encouragement for Everyday)

 

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The Lord goes before youThe journey of life is often long and difficult.  There are many obstacles in our way that cause discouragement, grumbling, and questions. Our circumstances may leave us feeling like the Israelites as God led them to the promised land.  God had promised something better than the life they were leaving, but they faced many struggles along the way.

Exodus 13:17 says, “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter.” Why not? The Israelites were finally free from slavery, and God was leading them to the Promised Land.  Why would He make them go the long way?  As we read on we see that travelling the  shortest route would result in being attacked by the Philistine army.  God knew if they faced a battle, they might turn and head back to Egypt. They simply were not ready. So He protected them from an immediate battle to prevent the Israelites from becoming discouraged and giving up. Ultimately, He knew what was best for them.

Eventually Pharaoh decided he had made a mistake and gathered his army to capture and bring home the Israelites. As they approached the Israelite camp to force them all to go back to Egypt, the people began to panic and cried out to God for help.  When trouble appears in our life, we often respond in the same way.  We panic and cry out to God to help us get through it.  Then they turned on Moses, complaining about his leadership, and wishing they had never left Egypt.  They feared the worst thinking they would surely die there in the desert.  They didn’t even wait for God to answer their cries for help before they began to fear the worst.  Satan uses fear to distract us from trusting God, and we begin to question why He is taking us down this path in life. In Exodus 14:13, Moses says, “Don’t be afraid be brave and you will see the Lord today.”  Moses had faith that God would be with them.

Then in Exodus 14:14, Moses says, “The Lord himself will fight for you.  You won’t have to lift a finger in your defense.”  Hmm…so if we encounter difficulty while travelling the path God planned, He will fight the battles for us!  He doesn’t even need our assistance or advice.  As long as it’s His plan for our lives, He will ensure that things don’t go awry.  There may be difficulties along the way, but ultimately God will protect us every step and nothing will happen that is out of His control.  What a comfort to know that whatever battles come our way, God has it under control!  All we need to do is be still and allow him to work.

At this point the Israelites appeared to be trapped between the wilderness and the sea as the Egyptians approached.  Then as God instructed, Moses held his staff over the water, and a pathway opened across the sea.  The Israelites walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground as water stood like a giant wall on both sides.  The waters closed up behind them and the Egyptians, their chariots, and horsemen were all swept into the sea. God had rescued them from what appeared to be an impossible situation.  There seemed to be no way to survive, but God not only protected them but also removed the threat completely!

Exodus 14:31 says, “And when the Israelites saw the great power the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.”  They saw the lengths that God would go through on their behalf to achieve His will in their lives. They began to sing the following praises:  “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.  He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.  The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name.”  (Exodus 15:2-3)

Our lives are like the Israelites journey to the promised land.  God has promised something better (heaven), but it’s often a long journey, and there are many difficulties along the way.  Difficult times help us to learn to trust Him, and our faith and relationship with Him will grow stronger.  Although we may grumble and get discouraged going through it, we can trust that He is with us, He has a plan, He will fight for us, and in the end we will see His power.

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