I’ve never been much of a fearful person, or at least I never saw myself that way. In fact, I seem to be more of a risk taker and fearless type of individual, so when I felt like I was supposed to host a Bible study on the topic of fear, I had a hard time relating. I knew I had some ladies who would really benefit from the study, so I was willing to host it in my home more as a blessing to them.
Funny how God likes to make sure I eat a little humble pie every now and again. Right before the Bible study started for the first evening, I had a storm blow into my life that left me fearful of the future in the area of finances. It clearly felt like an attack from the enemy to distract me from putting my attention on our women’s retreat that was less than a week away, but that didn’t make it any easier to face.
All day long my mind was preoccupied with the storm.
How will I navigate this?
Will I survive it?
Will I have to let some ministry commitments go because the funds aren’t there to cover them?
Am I in sin?
Did I do something to cause the storm?
Fear consumed me and left me incapable of being present for anyone. It seemed no matter what was on my schedule or the task at hand, whether it involved a face to face meeting with someone, an email to write, a phone call to take, details to address…my mind was somewhere else, fearing the worst.
When I returned home that night, I was an emotional wreck.
Weepy, insecure, fearful.
I needed my husband to hold me and protect me from the storm.
He gently reminded me of a circumstance just a week or two earlier when finances at the church left him wondering if he’d be able to get paid that week. We recalled together how the conversation went—a lively debate about God’s faithfulness and His promises to provide what we need. I challenged him to “just trust God!” My choleric personality lacking compassion created an admonishment to him that wasn’t all that encouraging.
Now the tables were turned, and I needed an understanding ear.
If he’d taken my approach, he’d have glibly exhorted me that “God is always faithful so trust Him with the details!”
Not at all like me, and true to form, filled with compassion and wisdom, Ross helped me process through the steps I needed to take to face the storm instead of attempting to deny it or run from it.
He held me as I wept and empathized with my fears. He gave me no pat answers or trite advice.
That sent me on a path of actively, intentionally trusting God, and accepting His provisions, or lack thereof. Remembering His goodness and faithfulness regardless of what the outcome looks like to me.
How fitting it was last night to dig into Psalm 34:4-7 as part of the study on fear.
4 I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me.
freeing me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
6 I cried out to the Lord in my suffering, and he heard me;
He set me free from all my fears.
7 For the angel of the LORD guards all who fear him;
and he rescues them.
As we can see from this scripture, He doesn’t promise to free us from the storm, or the circumstance, or the suffering. As we pray to Him, He frees us from our fears about them. As we look to Him for help, He causes brightens our countenance. As we cry out to Him in our suffering, He hears us and sets us free from all our fears.
Then comes the cool part. He seems to replace one type of fear with another. OUT with the fear that is defined as a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., and IN with the fear of the Lord, defined as a reverential awe.
Did you get that? The angel of the Lord guards ALL who fear Him.
That big, burly, strong, holy, righteous angel of the Lord stands before us, guarding our hearts—our mind, will, and emotions, where fear, on the other hand, wreaks havoc and sets us down a wrong path. But because we fear HIM, that angel of the Lord guards us.
What a promise.
What a word picture of what is going on in the spiritual realm.
Lord, I thank You that as we pray to You, You answer us, freeing us from all our fears.
I thank You that as we look to You for help, we become radiant with joy, with no shadow of shame to darken our faces.
I thank You that, as we cry out to You in our suffering, You hear us and set us free from all our fears.
And I thank You that as we grow in reverential awe of You, Your angel guards us and rescues us from the fear that so easily entangles us.
Thank You, Lord, for Your faithfulness, Your goodness, Your compassion, and Your grace in our lives.
And thank You for teaching us how to walk according to Your Word.
In Jesus’ Name, AMEN.