Me! But fear isn’t all bad. It is there to help us survive, to protect us from harm. Like not drinking contaminated water. But when traumas hit us one after another, we build up some serious walls to protect ourselves. Turning sullen and silent. Running away. Lashing out.
Fear was my constant companion. It motivated me to keep the peace, instead of standing up for what was right. It drove me to do things I knew were wrong. It kept me from taking risks, life hurt too much already.
How am I working my way out of it? Making the choice to take each problem to Jesus. Going through it with him detail by detail. Sorting out what I can do. Leaving the rest to him. When Jesus said, “Fear not!” (Matthew 14:27, NASB) he meant it. He is all powerful, and he always works all things for good. Somehow.
Joseph thought he could forget his past. Even if his brothers had sold him into slavery, and he spent years in prison as an innocent man, now he was the second highest leader in Egypt. He could truly say, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” (Genesis 41:51) He had conquered his pain.
Twenty-two years later he meets his brothers, and Joseph realizes nothing has been dealt with. He is so confused he throws his brothers into prison for three days. It takes Joseph several years before he says, “Brothers, you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” (Genesis 50:19)
Joseph faced his past. I have had to as well, and get to that same final point. God takes evil, and uses it for good.
Ten years ago I put a verse on the kitchen cupboard. “Be strong and courageous.” (Joshua 1:6) Every time I felt scared I ran to that verse, sometimes a dozen times a day. In my heart I reached up to God, and he gave me the strength to keep going.
That verse fell off three weeks ago. I put it up. It fell off again. I thought that God might want me to live a deeper faith, not through a verse, but directly with him. I struggled to hang on.
Yesterday a lady stopped me. “I have something for you,” she said. She showed me some words she had written in a notebook. “Don’t fear, have faith. It is I who lead the way.” I wrote those words down, put them up on the kitchen cupboard. Thank you, God.
Just yesterday I received bad news. It so crushed me, I slumped to the floor in tears. It felt as if a hand had slid inside my chest, squeezing life from my heart. “Don’t you have any words of encouragement for me?” I asked my husband.
“I don’t know what to say. But, I can read the Bible to you.”
He opened to 2 Corinthians 4. “…The One who raised up the Master Jesus will just as certainly raise us up with you, alive.” (verse 14, The Message)
If God could give Jesus breath again, he can make us live again. Of all the things I have learned about suffering, this one is the simplest – if I am still breathing, I LIVE… And if that is true, there is hope.
Parents might think their children belong to them. They might think children are there to make them happy. But that only turns children into possessions.
One father in the Bible said something different. “These are the children God has graciously given…” (Genesis 33:5) He realized that every child is not a thing to be possessed. Children are a gift from God, to be treated with respect.
God added his perspective for parents. He said, “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.” (Isaiah 54:13) God is our children’s principle teacher. Let’s listen to what God is teaching and affirm that to our children.
Never? Yes! “The one who trusts will never be dismayed.” (Isaiah 28:16) God is quoted again in the Bible, but it is slightly altered. “The one who trusts in the Lord will never be put to shame.” (1 Peter 2:6) Shame shows our sense of moral inadequacy, of feeling that we have royally failed. Dismay shows our sense of emotional inadequacy, of feeling overwhelmed by things happening outside our control. We might have messed up, or life might have messed us up, yet when we trust in God, when we know that He is in control, not us… His indisputable NEVER takes hold.
In the midst of being forced to work for my father I felted utterly dismayed. I couldn’t change it. I also felt shame at not having the strength to fight him. God never judged me for my seeming failures. NEVER. He held my hand and led me out.