Apr3SunApril 3, 2022
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23: 4 (KJV)
Do you have fears? Most of us do to one degree or another. Some of us fear heights, closed spaces, illness, or spiders and insects. Others fear public speaking, abandonment, isolation, humiliation, shame, or sadness. Fear is an emotion in response to a threat, real or otherwise.
Being afraid, on the other hand, is to be filled with fear. It is the adjective to fear’s noun and is used to describe ones’ anxiety concerning a situation or thing.
One of the most common fears is that of being alone or abandoned. Satan uses our fear of being alone to convince us that God is far away and not really interested in us. When we find ourselves in difficult or frightening situations, the devil will whisper, “You are on your own here; God is too busy for you. Trust in me, not God!” Ignore him, and trust God’s promise to be with you always.
“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.” Isaiah 43: 2 (NIV)
Have you ever been afraid? Not just a feeling of trepidation, but deep down, “fight or flight” afraid? I have, and I’ll tell that story in a moment.
These days, a conversation about COVID, about the economy, about the future of the congregation is quite common. Two years, or more, of constant uncertainly can take its toll on even the most “fearless” person. And now, just as the pandemic seems to be a little less fearful, we watch helplessly as Russia invades Ukraine.
What can we do? Where can we turn?
My chosen career path was such that I have been places where death or disfigurement was a mere blink away, and there have been times that I feared I might not make it home. But probably the most significant time was twenty five years ago this coming July. On a Sunday morning, I knelt on the floor of a canoe, in the middle of Hazelwood Lake, just north of Thunder Bay, and cried out to the Lord to help me. I was afraid – not of something physical – but of my ability to do what I had been asked to do. Satan was whispering in my ear, and I was afraid that I had wandered so far into the wilderness, that God had given up on me. I was afraid of being alone of being abandoned.
“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.” Psalm 18: 6 (NIV)
In my distress, he answered me. I was wrapped in strong, warm arms and lifted out of my pain and away from my fear. I was bathed in the brightest light I had ever seen; and I felt warm, comforted and treasured. All I could see through the bright fog was a tiny speck on the lake far below me, which I took to be the canoe. God returned me to the canoe a changed man. I knew that I could accomplish my task, and I knew he would be with me always. I also knew that I was to tell people that God is real. Now twenty five years later, I have been battered and wounded by experiences that no one should ever have. And although there are scars, I know Jesus has been with me every step of the way and has kept his promise to be with me always. I know he will be with me until the end of my earthly life, and that I will be with him for eternity.
Just as his Father promised the people of Israel; Jesus, in his closing words of the Great Commission, also promises to be with us always. “…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28: 20 (NIV)
There is no question that we are living in are troubling times. So I’ll ask again. What can we do? Where can we turn?
Turn to Jesus! Jesus is the one in whom we can trust to carry us through any situation despite our frailty and our fears. Turn to the risen Christ; trust in him alone.
Fear Not! Trust in Jesus, and live!