Tuesday, August 31, 2010

facing fear

The past week was so challenging for me to say the least. I prayed and prayed throughout each and every day for God to help me overcome the spirit of fear, and to remind me that He is faithful to deliver. Indeed, when I look over my life I do see how God is faithful and merciful to me without fail, and how abundantly blessed I am, but I guess it's a human weakness, or my weakness, to forget that and panic whenever life throws out something apparently negative. But everything in life is subject to change, everything except God.

As I grow older, I find I have to come to terms with my frail human frame and my mortality. We have a vague notion of it when we are young, we think we are not afraid, but in actuality we never truly accept that we are not invincible. Then one day we are middle-aged and we gradually realise that we are subject to decay, and that our joy has to come from God and from within, and not be reliant on the external world or circumstances. The importance of truly living in the now, living each day to its fullest, suddenly becomes clearer than it has ever been. Yet it's strange, or sad, how, as I come to grasp this truth, I also seem to have become more anxious, more worried, than I ever was in my "younger days".

But as Jesus said, "... stop being perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink; or about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life greater [in quality] than food, and the body [far above and more excellent] than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by worrying and being anxious can add one unit of measure (cubit) to his stature or to the span of his life?" (Matt 6:25-27, Amplified Bible)

Like any frail human however, I am still miserably subject to my worries and fears, despite the fact that I know that God is my omniscient, omnipotent, all-powerful, Almighty father, that He is always with me, that He is my hope, my strength and my deliverer. I see that I need to more than just know this -- I need to know that I know that I know. It's like a muscle that I need to exercise regularly, a habit I have to build up, till one day I find that it is truly natural and instinctive in me to truly "cast my cares" on Him, and confidently trust to His mercy, goodness and love. I need to accept too, that no one is in control of their life, but that it is enough to know the One Who is. And in order to know God, we have to spend time with him, LOTS of time, and do our best to live our lives according to His commandments, for "the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love" (Galatians 5:6).

And so, as happens when we are panicky and fearful, I prayed and prayed with all my might, with heart and soul as bared as they could be. I prayed for strength and for deliverance, and I also prayed for comfort -- and in the midst of my distress, I suddenly did hear that "still, small voice". It said, "Psalm 56". (Now I must admit I've never been much of a psalm reader, and beyond the obvious ones like the 23rd, I don't know them very much at all (there are 150??). So really, hearing "Psalm 56" was like something just sort of dropping out of the sky. I even paused and asked, "Did you say Psalm 56 or 53?". Which was when I actually saw, in a visual way, the words "Psalm 56". So of course I'm like, okaaay... I'll go read that. And I'm so so glad I did:

BE MERCIFUL and gracious to me, O God, for man would trample me or devour me; all the day long the adversary oppresses me.

2They that lie in wait for me would swallow me up or trample me all day long, for they are many who fight against me, O Most High!

3What time I am afraid, I will have confidence in and put my trust and reliance in You.

4By [the help of] God I will praise His word; on God I lean, rely, and confidently put my trust; I will not fear. What can man, who is flesh, do to me?

5All day long they twist my words and trouble my affairs; all their thoughts are against me for evil and my hurt.

6They gather themselves together, they hide themselves, they watch my steps, even as they have [expectantly] waited for my life.

7They think to escape with iniquity, and shall they? In Your indignation bring down the peoples, O God.

8You number and record my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle -- are they not in Your book?

9Then shall my enemies turn back in the day that I cry out; this I know, for God is for me.

10In God, Whose word I praise, in the Lord, Whose word I praise,

11In God have I put my trust and confident reliance; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

12Your vows are upon me, O God; I will render praise to You and give You thank offerings.

13For You have delivered my life from death, yes, and my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life and of the living.

I cannot begin to describe how much this uplifted me, reassured me, helped me to press on, to "do it afraid" -- reminded me that YES! God IS faithful to deliver. And it's true -- HE DID DELIVER ME YET AGAIN. O Lord, help me to remember this every time I must confront my fears, remembering as David did when he had to confront Goliath, how in the past the Lord had helped him slay a lion and bear.

And even now, as I still struggle with my fearful thoughts, I will declare, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline" (2 Timothy 1:7).

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