This series of posts has been in the works for a couple of years, really. For most of 2007 and early 2008, I spent an afternoon a week heading to see a Christian counselor in order to make sense of some of the things that had happened in my life. Regardless of how much faith I have in a "God is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine" (Ephesians 3:20), I struggle with an anger that sometimes scares me and often affects the most important relationships in my life.
And in this time of counseling, it became increasingly more clear that my anger had become a crutch to NOT deal with what was underneath.
Fear was underneath.
Fear of an uncertain future.
Fear for my kid's health.
Fear for my family's well-being.
Fear for what hard thing would be coming my way next.
Fear turned to an outpouring of anger that hurt those around me, and I couldn't...wouldn't let it keep happening. That time taught me so many things. Since my counselor was outwardly Christian, we could talk about how much of my anger was directed at God for fear of what HE would do next to us. The downside at times of being a follower of God is that you can grow to expect good things from him, and get lulled into the belief that obedience garners his favor. That surely if I am doing His work, with all that I've sacrificed to be His servant, surely his favor would be on us, and only good things would come our way.
And then they don't and unacknowledged disappointment can sometimes turn into a seething that breaks up the soul. And I was heading down that path, and it was plain scary. I could see life falling apart if I didn't get control ~ my first thought, although it was really healing and understanding I was looking for ~ of it... loss of relationship with the people I loved most ~ Hubby, my two precious kids, dear family, friends, even the God I serve ~ loss of comfort in not knowing myself, loss of hope for a future that has years of potential left, and so much more.
That seething... scary... sad... when faced to the truth that it was less about what I had felt others and God had done to me, but more about how fearful I was of the unknown that might be lurking around the next corner, or in the dark shadows ~ that seething became less my comfortable friend ~ living mad ~ and more the adversary I had to fight.
So I turned, as I have learned to do so many times in my life, but of course, fail to do often enough, to the Place with the Answers, my Bible, the Book where you can get to know God better to understand the "whys" and "whats" and other "w"s that mark the questioning life.
And in it I found word upon word and passage upon passage about what God thinks of fear. How God expects us to handle the fears we encounter in living in an uncertain world. And most importantly WHO GOD IS in the world and why that means we can live the fearless life.
Over and again, as I found hundreds* (literally!) of places where God addresses our fears, turth was revealed. In the end, fear, whether for my own safety or the safety of my family can be very real. But you can't live there. And even further, MOST of the time, my fear came from the possible growth that might happen if there were more hard circumstances to come in my life. I wanted to curl up and say "God, have we not done enough work in this area? What more do you ask of me?"
And in the end, the question, the only question that remained is this:
Do I not trust God, know him enough, to know he’s taking care of me?
His WORD reveals who He is to anyone who wants to know him. So what does the Bible ~ the whole of it ~ say about my fear, and who God is in the middle of a world that leaves me fearful. Who is God to me that I don’t have to fear?
After searching his Word to know God more it became clear that God doesn't just coddle us into trusting Him. He commands it. He demands us to trust him. And He ALWAYS says these things...
DO NOT FEAR.
In these commands lay the hope for my future, one not laced with anger and fear but with optimisim and joy. It is truthfully the way I've been striving to live these last many months. It is a journey of healing, of seeing His Light, and learning again how God does have my best in mind, even through the hard stuff.
The next several entries will be just a tasting of the many passages that brought God's truth about fear to light for me. I hope they do for you as well.
*My Scripture search was very basic and didn't require the Seminary degree I have (although that came in handy). I started on a personal prayer retreat, opening my Bible to the concordance and listing all the passages found there. And in reading those passages, I found cross-referenced passages that led me to more and more verses on the topic. This is for me, how I truly begin to know and understand God, not by staying in the main stream (although many of the passages I am choosing to outline in this series are main stream) but seeing the stuff in the lesser known corners of the Bible alongside the lauded and well-loved passages. That's just a hint of how you might go about doing your own study on a "topic" you need to hear from God about.