When Fear Comes

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust;
I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?

Psalms 56:3‭-‬4 ESV

Did you notice the title?  It was intentional.  I used the word when not if, for fear comes to all of us at some point in our lives. Whether it’s a fear of heights, a fear of failure, or a fear of the unknown, we all have faced and will face fear. There’s no getting around it, really. All of us at some point will have to walk outside our comfort zone, face the unexpected, or tackle the unknown. We need not ever try to avoid fear. Fear will come.

So if we know fear is inevitable, instead of wasting our precious time trying to avoid fear–instead of beating ourselves up every time we feel afraid–we need to acknowledge the fear–acknowledge it yet not embrace it.

In Psalm 56 (and throughout all the Psalms), David faced fear. He was despised, chased, hunted, and much more throughout his life. Fear was not a stranger to him. Yet what David knew, and what we must also remember, is fear is not a state of being; it’s a catalyst. We as God’s children are not supposed to remain afraid; we are to place our fears at God’s feet. We are to trust God with our fears. We are not to be afraid (meaning we are not to be continually in fear); we are to trust in God. We are to trust in the One more powerful than anything and anyone. We are not to remain afraid; we are to run to God. Fear should never be permanent in the life of a believer. Fear should never paralyze us. Rather, it should propel us into the arms of our Father.

We do not fail when we fear. Remember this today. Fear in and of itself is not failure. Rather, failure comes when we cling to the fear instead of to our Father.

So if you are afraid today, that’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling fear. Death is scary. Cancer is scary. New is scary. Different is scary. Many situations in life are scary. Yet  whatever it is–known or unknown–that is causing you to be afraid today, do not allow it to keep you there. Bow before your Maker. Surrender your heart and your situation to the only One powerful enough to redeem it. Be not afraid. Be still.  Be still and know God is God. Be still and know you will see the goodness of God in land of the living. Be still and know that the One who is for you is greater than anyone or anything that could possibly be against you. Do not remain afraid about anything today.  Instead “…in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).  And as you do–as you place your fear at our Father’s feet–as you let go of what’s paralyzing you–you’ll feel the change.  No, your circumstances may not change.  The cancer may remain; your loved one may die; your future may still be unclear.  But what will not remain will be the fear; it will be replaced–replaced with faith–replaced with peace–more specifically, the peace of God–the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

Therefore I encourage you now: be not continually afraid. Let God’s peace rule and reign in your heart today. Take that fear and cast it at your Father’s feet. God knows your situation.  God knows your heart.  And God knows exactly what you are going through.  So run to Him.  Embrace Him.  Trust Him.  And remember: “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Romans 8:37). 

Fear is not an if; it’s a when. But when fear comes, always remember, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). No one!

 

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How Could I Not

In the Lord I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain, for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
Psalms 11:1‭-‬3 ESV

Has anyone ever said something to you or suggested something to you that left you wondering,”Why did they just say that?” or “How could they just suggest that?”?  Something you assumed was understood or obvious was actually questioned by another. Something you knew that you knew with your whole heart to be true was dubbed crazy or ridiculous by some else. If so, how did you respond?  Were you angry? Were you dumbfounded? Did you laugh it off? Did you begin to question what you thought you once believed?

Regardless of how you may have responded in the past, in Psalm 11 David actually gives us an example to follow the next time. Apparently right before Psalm 11, someone told David he should flee and hide because the enemy was coming and the plight of the righteous was hopeless. Someone dared to not only assume the worst but then invited David do the same. In their opinion David should flee because those arrows in the dark were surely destined to hit their mark.

David was dumfounded. He couldn’t believe someone would dare make that suggestion. He was flabbergasted that someone suggested he run in fear. Yet he didn’t get angry;  he didn’t begin to doubt. He simply responded to that crazy suggestion by asking a question.

His question? “How can you say to my soul to flee like a bird at the threat of the enemy?” In other words, he asked “How could I not trust God who is my refuge?”

David didn’t need to fear the what ifs because David knew Who God was (and is!).  David didn’t have to flee the unknown because He knew the God who knows it all. Read with me what David shared with the doubter:

The Lord is in his holy temple;
    the Lord‘s throne is in heaven;
    his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.
The Lord tests the righteous,
    but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
Let him rain coals on the wicked;
    fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.
For the Lord is righteous;
he loves righteous deeds;
    the upright shall behold his face.

David knew who God was, he knew where God dwelled, he knew God was in charge, and he knew both the righteous and the wicked would one day “get their reward.” David didn’t doubt what he knew just because his physical eyes could not yet see. David trusted. He trusted that one day is Faith would indeed be sight.

My favorite line is the last one: that one day the righteous will behold his face. What a promise! Oh the joy that will come when we enter His presence! No more tears, no more pain, no more sickness, no more suffering. All things will be as God intended them to be.

It is a wonderful promise.

Yet even though we who know this promise can hold on to this promise, we are often questioned by those on the outside. We are often asked “why” and “how.” Why would God allow this to happen? Why would such a good person be taken so early from this life? How could God watch this and do nothing? How could we continue to trust in a God who would “let this happen”? Maybe you have even found yourself asking those very questions. Your home has been destroyed by a hurricane. The one you love has suddenly died. The doctor’s diagnosis is not what you wanted to hear. The cry of your heart seems to be met with silence from heaven.

Well, I do not know exactly what you’re going through today, and I will not even try to pretend that I know. But I will share what I do know. Our God is in his holy Temple in heaven. Our God is righteous. Our God sees it all. Our God knows it all. And one day the wicked will perish but the righteous will see his face.

“Where is your God?” people ask. “How can you trust God in such a time like this?”  Well, here is what our answer should be:  “How could I NOT?!”  How could I not trust in God in times of trouble?  How could I not run to God for refuge? How could I not keep my eyes fixed on the promise that one day I will behold his face?  If I cannot trust in God, then whom can I trust? No one.  All people on earth will fail me.  Nothing on earth and no one on earth will last forever.  But God remains.  God is steadfast. God is immovable.  God is Lord.  And if God is Lord, how dare I question Him when things aren’t going my way.

When the Lord is your refuge, you don’t run away from the enemy; you run to your Lord. And that is my encouragement to you today. Regardless of what you are going through, regardless of the circumstances you are facing, regardless of the questions that remain unanswered–trust in the Lord. Trust in His goodness. Trust in His mercy. Trust in His promise of redemption. Trust. And as you trust, if someone comes up to you and asks you “How could you trust in a time like this?” or “How could you believe in a God that would let this happen?” Do not get angry. Do not get frustrated. Do not begin to doubt. Just pray for that person as you smile back and simply respond with, “How could I not? How could I not trust in the one who was and is and always will be? How could I not trust in the one who promised that one day–yes, one day I, even I, little ‘ole me–will one day behold his face.”

This world is not our home, my friend. This world is not our home. So as we travel through this life, let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Let us keep believing and knowing that we know that when all else falls away, God remains.  Yes, God remains. And one day, one glorious day,  the upright shall behold His face.

 

Seeing Still

I feel compelled to add to my post the other day on faith. The thing about faith is it is not based on sight. Faith believes regardless of physical evidence. Faith doesn’t make sense. I repeat: faith doesn’t make sense; it cannot be rationalized.

Many Old Testament men and women died fully believing in a Savior they never saw with their own eyes. Hebrews 11:13 reads, “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.”

God always keeps His promises, even if we don’t see the answer during our time on earth. Joseph died fully believing God would bring him into the promised land; and it was not until several years after his death that Moses brought Joseph’s bones out of Egypt. Joseph may not have seen the promised land on earth, but he saw it in heaven.

In the New Testament, Paul prayed for a “thorn” that never went away. But Paul kept serving, kept preaching, and died knowing God is good.

On a personal level, I would love for my hormones to allow me to not be on meds, but that is not the case, so I must trust that God’s goodness is greater shown through the use of meds than the normalcy of hormones.

“What about me?”  you may ask? What about your sick child? What about the child you see struggle every day with what should be “normal” developmental  milestones? Why doesn’t God heal your child? Why doesn’t God heal every disease and sickness? Why do those we love get cancer or contract alzheimers?

The answer is simple: I don’t know.

But here’s what I do know. Your child is beautiful, and God will use her to glorify Him in some way; just keep believing. Keep seeing God and His goodness through the eyes of faith. And yes, cancer is ugly; it often takes the life of the one we love sooner than we’d like. But cancer is not too ugly for God. God can and will use its ugliness for something beautiful, even if the one suffering does not see or feel all the beauty this side of heaven.

My friend, this is what faith is: Faith is seeing the victory as having already been accomplished even if our physical eyes never lay hold of it. Even if we never understand on earth. Even if we never “see” on Earth–faith trusts. Faith knows God is righteous, God is good, and God is God, regardless.

So this is what I invite you to today. I invite you to that faith that may not understand, that may not make sense, and that may leave those around you wondering how and why you still believe and still serve and still love a God who supposedly “let this happen.” I invite you to keep believing in God and His goodness regardless of what your physical eyes may see and your physical body may feel.

God is God, and God is good–even when life is not.

Keep believing today, my friend. Do not let the things of this world take your eyes off the King of the World.  Keep believing, keep seeing, and keep moving forward knowing that He who promised is faithful and one day your faith will be made sight. Trust Him. It will.

See

Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out, and none came in. And the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor.
Joshua 6:1‭-‬2 ESV

Walls. When Joshua’s physical eyes looked at Jericho, that’s what they would have seen– fortified, seemingly impenetrable walls. No people. No movement. Just one big wall behind which the people of Jericho were hiding.  (And I must insert here the irony of God’s comment “mighty men of valor,” for those “mighty men of valor” had heard of the God of the Israelites, and they were afraid! They were so terrified they hid themselves behind a wall!)  Unfortunately, by hiding behind the wall, the men of Jericho were also erroneously placing their trust in that wall. “Surely,” they must have thought, “those Israelites will never get beyond our walls.  No human being on earth could get beyond our borders.” And in a way they were right. The Israelites could not penetrate the fortified city, but God could.  Yes, God could–for no wall is ever too big, too fortified, or too impenetrable for God.

So while the men of Jericho looked with their eyes and assumed the wall before them would protect them, God saw the truth–and He invited Joshua to join Him in seeing the truth–to join Him in looking beyond the physical–to “see” the victory God had already given.  God invited Joshua to believe, to trust, and to have faith that with God all things are possible.

And Joshua believed. When God pointed to the seemingly fortified city and said, “See,” Joseph saw. He saw the victory. He saw that wall with the eyes of faith–a faith that breathes and thrives on what is not seen.  He saw the promise fulfilled. Joseph saw by faith what God had promised.

And it was with this faith he acted.  It was by this faith “…the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days” (Hebrews 11:30).  Joshua wasn’t afraid of the wall–or the “mighty men of valor” cowering behind the wall.  Joshua didn’t trust in the Israelites’ physical or mental prowess to take down the wall. He didn’t analyze the wall for some kind of weakness. No. While his physical eyes gazed at a wall, his eyes of faith saw its fall.

And that, my friend, is the faith I desire–a faith that circles the walls in my life with confidence that God has already brought them down.   True faith is indeed “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith gives us the ability to “see” with our spiritual eyes what is not yet visible in the earthly realm.  Faith looks at the cancer and sees healing.  Faith looks at death and sees heaven.  Faith looks at the for sale sign and sees “sold.” Faith knows that it knows that it knows that He who promised is faithful–that the One who put the world into motion is more than able to tear down that wall that looms in the distance.

I’m not sure what your wall is today–an uncertain future, a house needing to sell, a dream seemingly shattered, an unexpected bill.  I’m not sure, but God knows.  God knows the very wall before you, and He is inviting you now to see.  See the victory. See its fall.  See that He has delivered the enemy into your hand.   See that with God all things are possible–yes, “all things are possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:23).