Before I get into my thoughts for the title, I want to check in with you. How are you doing really? Are you scared out of your rational mind? Are you just chilling waiting for this to be over? Leave a comment below or send me an email. I really want to hear from you.
FEAR… Big topic right now, huh. Anyone with a platform is sending well wishes. Among them these phrases are on repeat: Don’t be afraid, it will be over soon and we will get through this. Oh and this one: Troubles last for a night but joy comes in the morning. Maybe you are asking which morning because the permanently recurring weekend has you confused about which day it is. Do – not – fear. The Bible says it more than 100 times. So why do I sometimes feel this heart wrenching, breath pausing, nagging sensation when I think of the effect of this pandemic on our collective future, on my plans, on my children’s education, on my plans and on my money? Did I say my plans already? Oh yes I did. Am I the only one who now pays attention to every scratch in my throat, every cough, every hint of a symptom. I see you boo. I am not alone.
I think more than the invisible viral enemy, fear is having a rave party. If fear were a person he or she would be living their best life right now. Imagine an endless pool party, the drinks keep coming the staff serve the most exquisite foods. Fear is lying back on the pool chair watching us bob and weave in the deep end, panic on our faces, as we search for the nearest lifesaver but we are going down. So I have been wondering is it possible to be fearless, to not be afraid, to walk around with this impenetrable cloud of faith, confidence and joy. The short answer is yes. Now here is the long version.
There is a difference between feeling fear and walking in fear. Fear is a natural emotion meant to prevent us from walking unprepared into a dangerous circumstance. Our fear of falling for example, prevents us from skipping around on the ledge of a high rise building without a harness or rails. To feel fear is an innate temperature check. It is data that we need to process into usable information. How we process that data determines whether we operate in fear or faith. Is COVID-19 a real threat and danger? Rhetorical question; no response is required. Should your spidey senses go off when you are in public. Yes. Should you feel fear? You can, if it reminds you not to scratch your face or prompts you to wash your hands whenever you touch an unsanitary object. Should it cause you to build a safe room and never leave your house for 30 years? Maybe not. Should I feel a measure of fear or concern going into an examination? Sure if it pushes me to study and prepare. Susan Jeffers an American Psychologist wrote a whole book entitled “feel the fear and do it anyway”.
So what does the scripture mean when it says DO NOT BE AFRAID? Like I said, depending on the translation you use that phrase is used more than 100 times. I think it means just that; do not BE (state of being, according to Merriam Webster “to have, maintain, or occupy a place, situation, or position) of fear. Getting personal now; for me there is a lot that scares me about sharing my story with John Public. Being vulnerable carries with it a feeling of fear as my heart wants to protect itself from the onslaught of public opinion. I do it anyway. Why? Well. first of all, God said to and second if I can help someone struggle a smidgen less than I did, then my vulnerability and my experiences would not have been wasted. Do I feel fear? Yes. Do I walk in it… I try not to. Seriously guys.. still human and still working hard to get it right. I feel like its one of those life lessons that never end. You start out in kindergarten trying to understand 1 + 1 = 2, and basic concepts you will need to solve more complex calculus questions if you decide to pursue math to that level. My point is, feeling fear but learning to walk in faith is an ongoing lesson. We can and we must walk in faith over our fears. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Process the data, why do I feel this fear? What can I do to mitigate the danger? Do the benefits of my action outweigh those of my inaction?
I was in devotions one morning when I was sitting still listening for a word for ME. It’s mine guys you can’t have it. I’m kidding. It was quite simple really, “Do not be afraid from I am with you” (Isaiah 41:10). If you’re nice I’ll let you share my word. Anyway. I did a quick search of the NLT version of the phrase “I am with you” and I’m gonna let you in on the scribbles in my prayer journal.
I’ve counted 14 (2 x 7 – number of agreement x number of completeness) times when God says I am with you . Usually preceded by “do not fear” i.e. do not operate in fear. We can feel fear (natural response) but the command is do not be afraid, state of being. The reason I can operate without fear, is that God is with me. Why say do not be afraid if He didn’t recognize we would feel the emotion? He knew we would and therefore reminds us that the key to walking in faith isJournal Entry – April 8th
“I am with you.”
So back to the impenetrable cloud of faith, confidence and joy. This is ONLY possible if I accept, believe and remind myself that God is with me. Have a bill to pay and no possible way to pay it? GOD IS WITH ME. Someone in my family dies and the pain is indescribable. GOD IS WITH ME. I lost my income or it was reduced. GOD IS WITH ME. I’m stuck in a foreign country and I can’t go home because the borders are closed. GOD IS WITH ME. I’m at home worried about whether COVID is going to snatch me. GOD IS WITH ME. The church is His Bride and He promised to be with us for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us meet. Since He is with me I can be confident that, as dark as the day may be, it will eventually be okay. Do you believe that?
Write Fully Yours
P.S. I am with you, says God.
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
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