A Biblical Response to Fear

Three months. It’s been three months since I’ve last written and shared a blog post. I’m sorry for the long absence; I’ve had a lot going on healthwise though, and I just needed to stop doing a lot of things and truly let my body and mind rest for a while. I’ve been wanting to get back to blogging though, so I’m glad to be back for now. Today’s post is actually a fuller version of my last post way back in May (when I didn’t have the capacity to write much).

As a quick refresher, the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites had gathered together and started for Jehoshaphat’s kingdom to make war. I’m sure King Jehoshaphat and the Israelites were scared, but instead of succumbing to that fear, he sought and relied on God’s help. I’m not going to retell the entire story, so feel free to read it first before continuing (in 2 Chronicles 20:1-29). Following Jehoshaphat’s example though, we too can see what a Biblical response to fear looks like.

How to Handle Fearful Situations:

1). Go to God first (20:3-4)
—Most problems are not solved by me running away (either physically or spiritually).
—Most people can’t solve my problems, but God can.
—People can pray and offer some comfort and counsel, but they aren’t going to compare to the One who knows everything about the situation and has all the answers.

2). See the greatness of God (20:6)
—Focus on His attributes.
—Confidence and comfort comes from knowing this mighty God is on my side!

3). See the past victories of God (20:7-9)
—Remember what God has done both in my life and in others’ lives.
—Remember answered prayers (keep a prayer journal to help with this).

4). See the promises of God (20:15-17)
—God gives me a whole Book of promises!
—Meditation on His promises helps to engrave them on our hearts.

5). Sing praise to God (20:21-28)
—God is still God even when I’m scared or doubting.
—Praising Him when I’m scared, doubting, or “not feeling it” helps to realign my mind and spirit with God’s truth (when I can’t sing, I listen to hymns and meditate on the words).

God is honored and pleased when we praise and trust Him in the dark when we’re scared and don’t know what to do. He is right beside us, helping and strengthening us every step of the way, speaking to us gently, saying, “I know you’re afraid, but I’m with you always. Just trust Me.”

Our Eyes Are Upon You

I had a fall in early April that resulted in a concussion, and I’ve been struggling to heal from it. Screens make it worse, so I’ve not been able to read, write, or post for a while. I’m finally getting a little better, but it’s still hard. I can’t write for long, but I do want to share something that was a reminder and encouragement to me as I did my devotions a few days ago.

I was listening to 2 Chronicles 20, about when the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites gathered together and started for Jehoshaphat’s kingdom to make war. There was a lot that I got out of this chapter, but I can’t share all of it at once. For now, I want to share what Jehoshaphat did in the face of overwhelming news of impending war.

Despite his fear, Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast and sought God (verse 3-4). He gathered everyone in the city together, and he called out to God for help. In his prayer, he…

1). Remembered and praised God for who He was and what He’d done in the past. (Verses 6-11)
2). He acknowledged Israel’s weakness and limitations. (Verse 12)
3). He handed his fears over to God, and put his trust in God’s wisdom, character, and plan. (Verse 12)

What are we focusing on in life? Can it help us through the trials and hardships that come our way? O that we would follow in the example of Jehoshaphat by acknowledging our limitations and fully turning our focus and faith to God’s character and power.

“O Lord, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You. … O our God … we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”

2 Chronicles 20:6, 12

The Path of Silent Suffering

Today we have a very special treat! Sarah Walton, co-author of Hope When it Hurts, has given me permission to share a poem of hers that she recently posted on Instagram. Reading through it encouraged and blessed me so much, and I am very thankful to be able to share it with you today!

The Path of Silent Suffering

How can it be
When silence is deafening
In a world of noise
Yet loneliness unending.

Visible but unseen
Present but unknown
They say this story being written
Must mostly be walked alone.

When we’re called to live in community
But face trials that seclude
What a disorienting Christian dichotomy
Carrying a weight that very few knew.

Yet this path we travel alone
Has been traveled by One before
Unseen, misunderstood, and rejected
Our sorrow and pain he bore.

What may be unseen by many
Is fully seen by the One above
Although living in the presence of many
Fully known by the One whose name is Love.

This lonely road, though painful
Contains treasures along the way
Unable to be seen from the mountain top
Only to be seen in the darkness of the valley.

Maybe this is the path
Where the old self goes to die
Where we fall at the foot of the cross
And in Christ we learn to abide.

On this path where joy and sorrow meet
We may be lonely but never alone
On this journey from death to life
Unseen by many but to Christ fully known.

Press on, dear friend
When tears are many and the sorrows have grown
For each breath takes us one step closer
To our Savior leading us home.

-Sarah Walton

I’m Not Alone

Photo Credit: Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com

I can’t sleep.

I’m in pain, and I’m beyond exhausted. But sleep won’t come. The tears do though. I’ve been crying on and off for the last few hours. The physical pain affects the emotional. The emotional affects the mental. The mental makes the physical pain increase. It’s a horrible state to be in. And in the middle of the night, it’s a very lonely state.

I curl up into a ball and sob into my blanket. Alone. I feel so alone.

But then a thought comes to mind. More specifically, a verse I had read just the previous morning.

“…He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” Psalm 121:3-4

God’s awake?

Yes.

I’m not alone.

Even in my exhaustion and pain. Even in the middle of the night. Family and friends may be sleeping. But God isn’t. He is with me. And His presence brings me great comfort.

Blessings all Around Us

I heard the clock chime for 5 AM as I stumbled my way from my bedroom to the kitchen. My body was feeling the dizzying and nauseating effects of a night of zero sleep, and I needed to put some food in my stomach to calm the growing intensity.

“What can I grab that’s easy and quick and won’t make me feel worse?” I wondered through heavy brain fog as I opened the fridge door and stared at its contents. My balance wobbled a little as I tried to think through my options. My eyes fell to a small square inside a plastic Ziploc bag.

Baked egg.

Mom had made baked egg casserole for dinner the previous night, and there was one piece left over. I could eat that.

Too weak to stay upright long enough to warm it up in the microwave, I decided to eat it cold.  Too drained to make it back to my room or even sit upright at the table, I settled on a halfway destination of the living room couch and laid down to eat.

After I finished, I curled up, snuggled down into the cushion, and pulled the blanket off the back of the couch to wrap around me.

“God,” I prayed, closing my eyes shut and trying to ignore the familiar ache in deep in my spirit, “Why does everything have to be so hard and awful? Can’t You give me even one good thing? One blessing? Why do You make my life so miserable?”

His answer came quicker than expected: In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

“Seriously? Give thanks? For what? Everything is bad,” I responded, tears now streaming down my face.

Is it? I heard Him ask, Why don’t you take a look around you? Consider the blessings you’ve already had this morning?

My mind ran through the past few minutes, blessing after blessing suddenly jumping to my mind:

-Our house doesn’t have stairs. I didn’t have to battle going down a staircase to get to the kitchen.

-Our refrigerator had been stocked full of food options. Many people’s fridges are bare.

-I had healthy, beneficial food. The mixture of protein and carbs in the baked egg was the exact nutrition combo that best eases my symptoms.

-We had a microwave to use if I’d wanted to use it. Many people have no choice of warming up their food.

-I had a comfortable couch to curl up on that was closer than my bed. I had a pillow to rest my head and a warm blanket to cover myself with. Not to mention, I was inside a temperature-regulated house and not out living on the street in the elements.

Another verse popped into my mind: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Every morning

-Every morning that I wake up – whether I’ve slept or not, feel good or lousy – my loving Heavenly Father is right there beside me, bringing me new mercy to meet each day’s struggles. He is faithful to supply everything that I need. They never run out. They are given afresh each new day.

More tears streamed down my cheeks, only this time not from an ache in my spirit, but from immense thankfulness for a God who gives me so many blessings. 

About 5:45 AM, I managed to get back to my room and crawl back into bed. My symptoms were less intense, but still present. However, as I finally started to drift off to sleep, a calmness had settled into my heart.

___

Precious sisters in Christ, I know that chronic pain and illness easily cloud our perspective. I know it’s hard. I know it hurts. Please remember though that God has not left us without blessings. He loves us and takes joy in blessing us and caring for us. We might not see them right away, but if we only look around, we will find them and be reminded of our Father’s great love and compassion.

An Indescribable Gift

Image by Jeff Jacobs from Pixabay

Yesterday, February 5th, 2021 was my 10th spiritual birthday.

Ten years ago, yesterday, we woke up to snow covering everything outside (only ½ an inch, but, yes, we had snow in south Texas!). It was super cold outside, and it was cold in my heart, too. God had been convicting me for months though, and by the end of the day, the snow had melted … and so had my heart. What Jesus did on the cross wasn’t just for the world – it was for me. At 11:30 PM, on Saturday, February 5th, 2011, my historical belief in Jesus’ death and resurrection turned into personal faith. My walk with God has had its high and low points for sure (some very high, and some extremely low), but I am so thankful for my salvation (and become more and more so as I continue down this chronic pain and illness journey) and that He continues to patiently work in my heart and life.

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 2 Cor. 9:15 NKJV

God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle … or Will He?

I’ve had a rough several weeks and on a particularly rough day, someone told me “God will not give you more than you can handle.”  That didn’t help – because I felt like it was way, waaay more than I could handle.  Then I started thinking about this common saying and wondered, “Is this even true? It doesn’t feel like it at all.” I’ve concluded after much thought and Scripture searching that this phrase that is meant to be helpful is actually not true, and not even helpful considering what Scripture teaches.

The people who quote this saying usually back up the statement by sticking it with the verse I Corinthians 10:13. There are two problems with this belief.

First, the idea that God will not give us more than we can handle contradicts Scripture!  Consider John 15:4 & 5 “…as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me … for without me, ye can do nothing.”  Also consider the many verses that show that it is only by God’s strength and grace that we can get through life and its trials:

Isaiah 40:29-31 “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.  Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Psalm 9:9 “The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.”

Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in the time of trouble.”

Psalm 118:8 “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.”

…and, of course, the famous one:

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

If it is so important for us to turn to God and rely on His strength and grace to get us through trials, why would He ever tell us “I won’t give you more than you can handle”?  Answer: He won’t and will never tell us that.  He absolutely gives us more than we can handle!  That is the whole point!  The realization that we can’t handle things on our own is one of the biggest driving forces to cause us to fall on our knees in humility and draw close to the Lord and ask for His strength and grace to get through life.

Second, let’s just listen to the words of 1 Corinthians 10:13: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” [emphasis added]

Sweet sisters in Christ, this verse is not taking about life’s trials and hardships—it is talking about temptation to sin!  It says God has given us the victory over sin in that we no longer are required to sin and that we have a choice—we have a “way of escape.”  The ability to “escape” was given to us by Jesus when He died on Calvary’s cross.  He conquered both death and sin, and for those of us who are saved, we have been baptized into Christ’s death—meaning we too have victory over death and sin!  Therefore, we what this verse actually means is that God will never allow us to be tempted to sin beyond what we can resist in His power.

So, please do not take this verse to mean that God won’t give you more than you can handle.  He does that ever moment of every day, and the reason for it is so that we will realize just how much we need Him in every detail of our lives. 

Songs of Encouragement

Just want to share some songs that have been a huge encouragement to me lately as I’ve struggled with pain, exhaustion, and emotional weariness. I recently found Travis Clark on youtube, and God has really blessed and strengthened me through his music. I’d encourage you to check out these and his other songs.

When Everything is Dark

This post is less of a “this is what I’m learning” and more of a longing for encouragement and helpful advice from others.

When everything around you feels dark, when everything seems wrong, when all is painful, when you feel so alone, when there’s so much suffering that it envelopes your entire being and makes you sick and the tears fall continually, what do you do?

When your body physically aches to be held and comforted, do you really find God is “all you need”? He has no physical form. How can He hold me? When words don’t seem to be enough, how can His Word be my solace?

I know I’m asking questions I should know the answers to. I know I shouldn’t even have to ask them. But sometimes when everything is dark and lonely and painful, it’s hard to remember or see what is true and real. It’s hard to find comfort.

I welcome encouragement, advice, or whatever else helps you get through your darkest times.

Drawing Near to God

My own photo

As most of you know, I found a lump on my left breast a few months ago but only recently began looking to see a doctor because it had suddenly started growing and hurting.

An obvious concern for this type of problem was breast cancer. I was scared. But as a fellow blogger and sister in Christ reminded me after I first shared the news, trials can be very sanctifying times in out lives. I found this to be very true while I waited for my appointment.

As I considered the “what-if’s,” I had to come to the realization that no matter what happened, God was with me now, and God would be with me in my future. I drew closer to Him, seeking His comfort, and I found it. Our Lord does not withhold His grace from us when we ask for it. I sensed His presence, His peace, and His power. And I knew that He was with me.

Physically, I actually did not last until the 13th, which was the day of my appointment. Several days prior, I woke up to find that the area was oozing and bleeding. With no idea of what was going on, I had my mother take me to urgent care.

It turns out, my lump was actually a growing abscess — and it finally burst. Tests revealed it was infected with staph. My wound was tended to (the hole was large enough that it had to be packed) and bandaged, and then I was prescribed an antibiotic.

I did keep my appointment on the 13th so that I could establish care with a new doctor and also have the wound checked on. She said it is healing slowly, but there doesn’t seem to be any major concerns. I have another week of antibiotics. Unfortunately, the antibiotics seem to be causing headaches, so I look forward to being done with them.

Thank you for praying. While an abscess and staph infection isn’t necessarily good, this turned out to be a much better diagnosis than I was expecting, and I am very thankful for the way that it drew me closer to my Heavenly Father.

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8a