Monday, May 6, 2013

Fears and Fearfulness

[From Pastor Ed… May 2013]

One of our children struggles regularly with fear. Most nights, this one can be found wandering out of their room much later than they should, excusing their stroll with some needless errand: "I needed to get a book" or "I wanted a sip of water" or "I thought I heard a noise." When pressed, they will eventually confess.

"I'm scared."

Half the time, they cannot even name what it is that they are scared of — and often, even if they can say, their fears are irrational and unnecessary. Tornados are not a major threat in Tucson; neither are snake infestations. The creepy urban legend that a playground friend mentioned isn't going to come true, either.

Sometimes, though, their fears are not irrational, but are quite real. No, I can't promise that we won't have a fire. I can't assure them that no one will ever break into our house, or that they are totally safe from kidnapping. And I can't always keep them from being alone.

As frustrating as this regular fearful streak can sometimes be, the truth is that I have my irrational fears too. I know that my fear of needles is totally unreasonable (not that needles are harmless, but what goes through my mind is completely groundless), but it gets me. Every time.

And I have fears that are completely within the bounds of reason. I think we all do. We have social fears: what if I do the wrong thing? Say the wrong thing? What if they stop liking me? Will I embarrass myself?

We have security fears: will I (or someone I love) get seriously ill? What will I do if we don't have enough to pay the bills? How will we make it if I lose my job?

And we have spiritual fears: How will I be able to withstand temptation? What do my doubts and uncertainties mean about my assurance of salvation? Will God stop loving me because of this or that deep, darkest secret?

On my best days, what I tell my child — and what I remind myself — is that God knows our fears. The real ones and the ridiculous ones. And even though I cannot provide all of the security that my child longs for or that I long for, God can. And even more than that, He does.

God doesn't promise me that I'll never get sick, but He promises that lasting and eternal healing is found in Him. He doesn't promise that I will never be in need, but that my truest needs are met — and that He both knows and cares about ALL of my needs. He doesn't promise me freedom from spiritual struggle, but He promises me freedom TO struggle (and He promises His presence with me in the midst of my struggles)!

Some days this is barely enough, and (much like my own child) I wander around in a fearful funk, clinging to the hope of God's promises. And other days it is more than enough, and I am lifted up beyond my fears!

I have fears that, if not unique, are at least more peculiar to me and my particular place and calling. What if the church doesn't make it? Have I totally misjudged my calling? Did I counsel poorly, or fail to serve in the right way, or lead others astray? You probably have particular fears of your own.

God is not indifferent to my peculiar fears, nor is He absent in them. He is not unmoved by your fears, either. Rather, he invites us to call out, like David:
"When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid."
Psalm 56:3-4

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