This world can be a very scary place. Scary things happen to everyone - even good people. I know that I often look for some sort of reason why these things have happened. Let me give you a few examples. My nephew Gage was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. Then they found some chromosomal abnormalities. As if this wasn't enough, he was recently diagnosed with Fanconi anemia, a disease that has the potential to be devastating. Just when I thought, why in the world did this great kid and his wonderful parents have to be dealt this hand, the hand got worse. They just found out their younger child, Stella, also has Fanconi anemia. This is a very scary situation. You have the tendency to think, "Why them? They're good people." I have another friend from college who is serving the Lord with her husband and three daughters in India. One of her daughters has been very ill and may possibly have a genetic condition. It seems like if anyone would be blessed, it would be missionaries, right? My best friend's daughter is plagued with frequent UTIs. This may not seem as big of a deal in comparison to the others, but it caused them pain and worry, and it's a big deal to them. Our son is disabled and can't do most things a person always dreams their son will do. It seems like there is nothing but badness and scary-ness (if that's a word) everywhere you turn. It doesn't seem fair, but, as my dad told me as a little girl, "Life isn't fair. It's a magazine." (Let's see how long it takes some of you to get that one!) It seems like all of these families are fighting in the battle of their lives.
"Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident." - Psalm 27:2-4
Every time you turn on the TV, radio, or computer it seems like all you hear about is financial ruin, the terrible economy, and the unemployment rate. Good people (and bad) have lost their jobs, their home, their cars, and even some, their families. My family is not currently in the greatest financial situation. Being a fellow, my salary is basically the same as that of a resident. For those of you who don't know what that means, it means I'm payed pennies on the dollar for what an attending physician would get. Part of my "pay" is getting to learn, which I am very grateful for but does not pay our bills. We currently do not receive medicaid or SSI even though Will is disabled and have a lot of out of pocket medical expenses. Plus, everything here in Little Rock costs more than it did in Tulsa. Pastor Rod has been preaching a sermon series on fear (check out the sermons at www.firstnlr.com) over the past month. It feels like he's preaching directly to me and that I'm the only one there. Last week he talked about being financially faithful to God. He talked about people who don't tithe and give offerings to God for the fear that they will not be able to pay their bills and provide for their family. I am ashamed to say that I have been that person once or twice in the past, but I am proud to say that I have been faithful in my giving for several years now. I do, unfortunately, still sometimes wonder, "What if I still had that money? I could pay this bill and that bill with it." Then I get a gentle kick in the pants from the Lord (lately in the form of Pastor Rod's sermons!) saying, "Don't worry! I will take care of you!" And He always does. It hasn't been in the form of a check in the mail, but we have never done without life's necessities.
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." - Matthew 6:25-35
I guess what I'm trying to say is that bad times are going to come. Scary things are going to happen. It's our human nature to be afraid. But, God doesn't want us to be afraid. He promises He will ALWAYS be with us, NEVER leave us or forsake us, and that He has a plan for our lives. We may not always understand His plan or know the next step, but that's where our faith comes in. We have to trust Him. We have to believe His promises. It's not always easy to do - I'm the first person to admit that - but as I spend more time with Him, I'm learning to trust Him more and to slowly but surely put aside my fears and find the joy He wants me to have. While the situations I've written about are anything but joyful, I truly believe that no matter the outcome, God will bring joy out of it. His plan is not necessarily always to heal or provide a check, but the blessings will come...if we let them. I know it's hard to have faith when you're afraid - that's why we have to stop being afraid. I hope that whatever your fear is, you can learn to "Fear not!" Put all your trust in Him, let Him lead you, and your fear will be replaced with abundant joy.
"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song." - Psalm 28:7
"Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you..." - 1 Chronicles 28:20