This morning I was working out with my youngest daughter, she on the elliptical, I on the treadmill. She, being only five, has lots of energy and figured that she would keep me company. Her little legs were going one hundred miles an hour, while I dogged the run. "Working out like this makes us strong, Mom. Strong and courageous!"
I laughed, appreciating that she had pulled that scripture verse from her heart. Strong, hopefully. Courageous, I wasn't so sure about, although it did cross my mind that depending on the day and my frame of mind, there probably was a certain amount of courage that I had to muster up to either go to the gym or work-out at home.
As I was jogging (and she was sprinting) I watched the news (with the volume down low so my daughter could not hear, although I suspect it was difficult for her to hear anything between my loud running steps and my heavy breathing). I thought TV may distract me from the physical discomfort that was growing inside my tired body.
Recession. Terrorist attacks. Joblessness. Murders. Drugs. Homicide bombings. Kidnappings. So much for distraction.
I began to think, "so much to be fearful of." The world seems upside down, with the latest culprit having its grip on the people of the world -- the Swine Flu. Apparently, it is now at a level 5, whatever that exactly means. Level 6 is the highest, so I guess not good. Clips of people all over the world wandering around with respiratory masks on, fear emanating from their eyes, projecting that which is in their hearts. Schools closing. People staying home. Uncertainty. Real concerns.
If it isn't enough to be hounded on the outside by such terrors, whether close to home or not, we have our own personal issues. Illnesses. Broken relationships. Financial strains. Loss of dreams. Abuse. Homelessness. The truth is, people hurting everywhere.
And with their pain, comes fear. Fears come from the reality that we may lose something precious to us like our family, our loved ones, our health, our homes. Things that we hold dear, lost to us, and then what will we do?
How do we watch the news and not fear? How do we look at our own life situations and not fear when we are dismayed, disillusioned, disheartened, and discouraged? We can combat fear by remembering Who God is.
Psalm 91:4b-6 is appropriate to even the fears of this day. "... His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys by midday." Isaiah 41:10 reminds us, "So do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
Dear reader, if you find yourself fearful today, I pray that this gives you comfort. The God of the universe who created everything (including you) is with you, holding you in His righteous, strong and powerful right hand. Imagine that. What an incredible thought. God holding out His hand, and you sitting right there, resting, in the very middle of it.
Working out may bring us physical strength (and maybe alittle bit of courage) but it is God who gives us the strength that we need to overcome the fears and discouragement that we face. He says that He will be the one who strengthens us. He is OUR God, and we are His.
The truth is, life is hard and hurtful, but we need to stand back and look at our fears in light of eternity. I need to be reminded of this, often. It is can be hard to grasp and hard to continue to hold on to. Life may not go as we had hoped. There will be disappointments. God will help us with our fear, but that does not mean that everything is going to work out perfectly, at least from our human perspective. We will lose things that are special to us, and it will be painful. But God is here to give us the grace and strength that we need, when we need it, and He will hold us, and carry us to our heavenly home in the palm of His hand.
PS -- I do want to add one caveat. Fear can be a "good" thing, sometimes. It can tell us that something is wrong, and that we need to act or react. If you find yourself in a situation that is abusive or dangerous, pay attention to your fear. God may be giving it to you for a reason. Flee from the situation that you are in, seek safety and pursue wise and godly counsel.