Wow! We are living in quite the tumultuous times currently. Every day and it almost seems like every hour, something seems to be changing. Have you been told to stay home from work and you are wondering how you are going to pay your bills? Are you unable to find the groceries or toilet paper that you need for your home? Are you concerned that your small business may not be able to make it through these times of social distancing or sheltering in place? Is someone in your family or one of your dear friends not feeling well or seriously ill? There are many questions in the world that we are living in. Our circumstances may currently cause feelings of fear in us. What is going to happen? Are we going to be ok?
Throughout history we are able to see countless examples of perilous times. We are also able to see a variety of ways that people have responded in those perilous times. I am able to look back on my own life and reflect on the times that I felt most afraid. After my husband died in August 2011, and then my only son died in June 2013, then I had a variety of times after those deaths that I battled fear and anxiety. I was afraid that others in my life that I was close to would die as well. I was especially terrified that I would additionally lose my two daughters. I had to battle in my thoughts and feelings with that anxiety and fear. As those of you who know me or have read my writings know, I refuse to sugarcoat those times. I refuse to try to act like it was easy or that I did not struggle. That would not be true. I had many times that I felt afraid or anxious.
As many of you have learned about me, after the deaths of “our” guys, then I had to rebuild my faith and trust in God. I had to realize that I was not going to be able to understand the “why” of their deaths. As my friend Kevin said, “I had to surrender my ‘right’ to understand to The Lord.” It was a process. It was taking small steps each day in order to learn to live in peace that passes understanding. It was some days feeling like I was taking a step forward and then sometimes feeling like I just took two steps backward. It is learning to capture the thoughts that have plagued me. It continues to be learning day by day how to focus on who God is in spite of what I see around me.
I am sharing these things in these uncertain times as I know many in our world today are feeling real fear. Some of you who are feeling afraid may feel nervous about voicing those fears or anxieties. I want our time together on here to be real and honest. I want you to know that it is ok to talk with others about those fears and anxieties that you may have. We can talk to God about them as well. We do not have to hide these things from Him. He understands us and loves us more than we can ever understand. In Him we can find hope and love as we continue to build our faith in Him. We can do that together!
One of my favorite quotes is:
“Life is 10% of what happens to you & 90% of how you react.” Charles R Swindoll
Many of you have heard me share that quote. It challenges me to my core. Many times we want to feel the opposite. We want to believe that everything is just happening to us. But if we flip it, then hopefully we may realize that so much more of how our life continues on is shaped by how we react to what is happening. Then the responsibility shifts to us.
How will we react during these times that we are living in? Are there things that we can be doing from where we are? Are there those in need that we can serve and help from where we are? I am challenging myself to see how will I react during these tumultuous times. I am using the word tumultuous because again, I do not want to sugarcoat what everyone is struggling through currently. Tumultuous has synonyms such as cataclysmic, convulsive, stormy, tempestuous, turbulent. I am trying to use a strong word as I know that many people in our world are struggling and hurting today in really painful ways. There is no minimization of that pain and trouble here.
In The Bible in Mark 4:35-40, a time is described when Jesus is in the boat with his disciples, and he fell asleep. It is described that a “furious squall” came up and that the waves broke over the boat. Do you imagine that you would feel afraid? Do you imagine that the disciples felt afraid? When Jesus got up and took authority over the storm then He asked His disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” I titled this blog “Faith over Fear”. That is a catch phrase among many Christians currently. If we genuinely try to live in that truth then we are choosing to take our feelings and thoughts of fear and anxiety and to lay them at His feet. We will try to give them to Him and tell Him that we may feel afraid or anxious, but that we are going to choose to have faith in who He is. We are going to choose to focus on who He is and what He is capable of doing rather than on what we are seeing. We will try to live in faith and not in fear. We will choose to live in hope of who He is and what He is able to do.
Earlier today, I was reading about hope in Hebrews 6:18-19. In those verses, hope is called an anchor. For any of us who have been in a boat that uses it’s anchor then we realize that the job of that anchor is to keep the boat in it’s place. We want that anchor to be strong so that the boat does not wander away from the spot that we are trying to fish in or the spot that we just want to stay in for awhile. When we place that anchor down into the water then we are planning on that anchor keeping our boat steady despite the waves and the winds that may come up and try to move our boat. That is the anchor’s job, right?
Now let’s picture hope as our anchor. If we are placing our hope in The Lord, then we are choosing to anchor ourselves to hope in Him even during the tumultuous times. We are choosing to keep ourselves focused on hoping in who He is. We are choosing to focus on staying steady despite the big waves and hard times that we feel surrounded by or in. I use myself as an example of someone that struggled during pain and grief…. someone who was in a lot of pain and wondered how to trust and have faith in God again after losing my husband and son. I do not come to you as someone who has not struggled in this or wondered how to find hope. But thankfully after working on healing and finding hope and faith again, I am able to share with you that it is possible to live that way again even after experiencing deep hurt.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said,
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
Nelson Mandela challenged us all when he said,
“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”
Will you join me? Will you challenge yourself to live in faith not fear? If you have some days or moments that maybe did not go well, will you wake up the next day and try again to live in faith and hope? Will you believe these promises with me?
“For I know the plans I have for you declares The Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you HOPE and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
“We wait in HOPE for The Lord; He is our help and our shield.” Psalm 33:20
As I close, I want to go back to those verses in Hebrews 6:18-19 that talked about hope as our anchor. In those verses it says that we are given
“…strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us… Hope that is sure and steadfast…”
Just like in that quote that I shared from Charles R Swindoll earlier that says that “life is 10% of what happens to you & 90% of how you react.”, then this verse shows action on our part… we are to take hold of that hope. Will you take hold of that hope with me?
I am praying that in spite of the struggles that so many of us are battling today that we will be able to learn to live in faith and hope. May we find ways to help those in need during this time. May we bring comfort, love, and hope to the hurting. May our faith be in God as we remember that nothing can separate us from His love.
The girls and I send you all our love and prayers during this time. We pray that you are wrapped up in God’s arms of love and that your needs will be provided for. We pray for health and healing for you as individuals, for your families, for our country, and for our world. So much love and prayers for you all.