Tag Archives: fear

Gratitude: Psalms 34

Since Thanksgiving is at the end of this month, I’m sure there will be a lot of gratitude challenges on various social media platforms. I thought I would do my own challenge to share my favorite gratitude Psalms every Friday this month. This is a longer psalm, and while there is a lot of gratitude in this one, I want to focus on the first seven verses.

I will extol the Lord at all times;
    his praise will always be on my lips.
 I will glory in the Lord;
    let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
 Glorify the Lord with me;
    let us exalt his name together.

 I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.

 Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.
 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
    he saved him out of all his troubles.
 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
    and he delivers them.

Psalms 34:1-7

I am thankful we have a God who will deliver us from our fears. Fear is not forever. And fear is not a signifier for a lack of faith.

There are so many instances in the Bible of people who were afraid, and yet stepped out in faith even in the midst of their fear. Moses was afraid to go back to Egypt and speak to the Pharaoh. He was afraid to even go back to the Jews and tell them that God was going to deliver them. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was afraid when the angel came to tell her that she would be pregnant with the Savior. The angel says “Do not be afraid” because she was troubled. And yet, these two (and so many others) are held up as great models of faith.

This is why I get so upset when I hear someone tell a person who is anxious, who is afraid, of certain circumstances in their life that they should just have faith. Because having faith does not guarantee the outcome we hope for or deter the outcome we fear will come. Faith is not the opposite of fear, they go hand in hand. We can still be afraid of the fire as we walk into it, knowing that God is holding our hand through it. My faith is not dependent on my circumstances, on my comfort. It is dependent on an unchanging God who can take anything this world can throw at me and use it for good, which means anything in this world can be thrown at me.

Christ’s faith did not keep him off that cross. It held him to that cross. He had faith that God was going to overcome, that he was going to defeat death and rise up on that third day. Faith shines a glimmer of the hope of redemption when we are in the darkness of fear.

My faith allows me to sit in the discomfort of fear and sadness. It gives me the strength to sit with others in their own discomfort without trying to will it away with platitudes. And I am so thankful for a God who gives me that strength to keep going, even when I am afraid.

Fear and Faith

My life has had some pretty pivotal moments of anxiety and fear and hopelessness. When I turned to God, sometimes he answered my prayers in ways I hoped for, and other times he answered my prayers by walking with me through the pain, grief, and uncertainty.

In this point in time, in our world, we face a lot of uncertainty. I have been here before, on a personal level. Every pregnancy I had was wrought with anxiety and uncertainty. And I had people, well meaning people, tell me that there was nothing to be anxious about. That I needed to get a hold of myself, implying that my anxiety meant that I wasn’t being a good Christian.

At the beginning of this year, I started a study in the book of 1 John. Honestly, I picked the book randomly. The only real requirement was that it was a shorter book because I was going to be reading it in different translations and using the reference verses provided by my Study Bible. In this book, there is a verse that can be a little misused in times of uncertainty and fear.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

1 John 4:18

We are called to love God and love one another. In fact, in the very next paragraph, John says just that. But I think the Perfect Love he is referring to is God. God is not afraid. He is in control and he sees a much bigger picture. And though he doesn’t want us to fear, just like we don’t want our kids to be afraid, he doesn’t discount us when we are.

It reminds me of the story of Gideon in the Old Testament. God told him to go conquer the Midianites (Judges 6-7). And Gideon makes excuse after excuse. He’s afraid. But God remained faithful. God even pared down Gideon’s troops to show who was really the conqueror.

As I started to work on this post, I was reminded of all the times I turned to God. All of them turned out differently. When I gave over the mess of my dating life, God responded with the relationship that would eventually become my marriage to my husband. When I didn’t get the job I thought I would after graduating college, and ended up doing odd jobs just to pay the bills (which didn’t actually cover all my bills), I turned to God, and he connected me to a well-paying, stable job that I loved helping other people. I was even able to continue doing that job when I moved to another state, working from home. Even though I no longer work there, I still think of the people there as my friends and family.

But it didn’t always end up the way I thought it should. I still had my miscarriage and my two stillbirths, even though I pleaded with God for a miracle. But he never left my side, and he revealed so much to me about hope, community, and love, even when I was afraid and anxious.

I guess what I’m saying is, it’s okay if you are afraid about what’s going on in the world right now. It’s okay if you are uncomfortable with uncertainty and aren’t as flexible as other people hoped you would be. But truthfully, God is bigger that other people’s expectations and he’s not about to walk away because of your anxiety. He didn’t walk away from Gideon, or Moses, or Abraham, or Jacob, or Elijah, or Jonah, or Peter, or any number of people in the Bible who were afraid, who may have even said or did the wrong thing because of that fear.

No matter how our circumstances, our lives, our normals may change, God is unchanging. We can put our faith and hope in him. And when we are afraid, he is ready to listen to our anxieties, hold our hand through our panic attacks, and whisper his love in our ear when our fear feels overwhelming. I’m right there with you. I feel it too, but I know that we will get through this together with God leading us every step of the way.

An Announcement of Emotions

I have hesitated about making a formal announcement regarding this for a while, going back and forth several times.  But I feel like it would be best to come clean so that I’m not misleading anyone in future posts.  The announcement is I am pregnant, and I’m due in early Spring.

The day I got the positive test, I had three distinct emotions.  The first was, of course, elation – mixed with gratitude and excitement.  I remember being so happy that I started crying in convulsions.  My poor sweet puppy had no idea why I was sitting on the floor, leaning against the window in my office with tears flowing down my face.  She probably thought I was going crazy.

The next emotion was fear, but more like fear with hope and peace still attached to it.  I was afraid I would miscarry again, but it wasn’t for a lack in faith of what God could do.  It was quite the opposite.  I knew that God was with me in my last miscarriage.  The things he has done for me in the last year, the purpose he renewed in me, gave me unimaginable joy and a peace that passed all understanding.  It allowed me to speak to those who were silently grieving.  It opened my eyes to the injustices of life and who we can be to each other, both good and bad.  The biggest realization was that we are not guaranteed a certain outcome to our life, just that God will be there every step of the way.  If I had another miscarriage, I knew God would be there, that my purpose would still be intact.  If I was able to carry to full term and have a healthy child, God would be there also, and my purpose would be intact.  It was the not knowing which way it was going to go that was the problem.

However, knowing now that I am on a new path (every day is now new as I have never been this pregnant before), it has brought another emotion.  This final emotion is guilt.  When I opened up about my miscarriage and struggle, I was met with so many other stories from women who I respect and admire, who are still in that struggle.  These are women who I honestly believe will become amazing mothers some day.  However, they are doing amazing things with their lives in the present as well, showing me that purpose is not dictated by societal timelines, but by God alone.

Still, I know what it’s like to get the pregnancy announcements on Facebook, or in an email, or in person.  I know what it’s like to watch bellies grow as I felt more and more left behind.  I know what it’s like to have well-meaning friends try to connect with me, only to have the conversation turn to baby/kid talk unintentionally.  Not that I hated discussing the adorable children around me, it’s just that it made my missing ones that much more apparent.

I don’t want to blindly take hold of my mommy card and jump on this path to never look back.  I want to continue addressing this issue we seem to have with women without children, whether by choice or not.  We either use them up or treat them as useless.  They deserve neither.  They deserve to say they are tired or overworked without the constant comment or look that says “just wait til you have kids”.  They deserve to be included in conversations and activities because we are all women dealing with life together.  And ultimately, they deserve to be considered worthy in the kingdom of God.  Because they are.

I don’t know where this pregnancy will take me, but I know that if I am blessed with children of my own, I want to teach them that no matter what path they are on, God has a purpose for them.  Just as He has as purpose for all of you.