I totally love the way God is able to tend to the human heart, switching seemingly dark times into the light of HOPE. That happened to me last night. Earlier last week, some personal burdens that I have been carrying became heavier as fear entered my mind and heart. To be honest I felt alone and wanted to run, but there was nowhere to go. As I sought to get a handle on my fears I realized that the words from Psalm 121 were rolling through my mind as if on a scroll. I started to smile as I recognized it was our family “Medical Procedure Psalm” that we used whenever one of our children was facing stitches or some other medical procedure. I would begin with, “I lift up my eyes unto the hills–where does my help come from?” They would respond (often in tears): “My help comes from the Lowd (sniff, sniff), the Makeh of heaven and earff . . . ” I couldn’t help but smile as I remembered those small voices reminding us both that God is good, that we are never alone and that we need not be afraid. I stopped running even though some fear remained.
This got me to thinking about how to best face our fears. Looking online I found an interesting article on a site called Thinking Aloud. Written by “personal and business coach” Gail Sussman Miller, the article presents six “Strategies to Face and Move Through Fear” that she says can be applied in any order. Some of her ideas useful but one I found quite troubling:
- Find out what the fear behind the fear is! (Pay attention to your thoughts; write them down. A good start!)
- Ask “what is REALLY true?” ( Also helpful but our sources of discerning truth differ. Where I advise clients to write their fears down and then to answer those fears with the truth of Scripture; Miller recommends a sort of personal pep talk. In fairness, a personal pep talk can be somewhat helpful, but I don’t think it really helps to get to the root of the problem the way Scripture does.)
- Make sure you are spiritually and emotionally grounded. (She really had my interest here until I read further. “I find when fear has me rattled; I am scattered and need grounding.” (True, it is why I wanted to run!) “I use deep breathing and positive present-tense affirmations to get myself centered and calm.” (Helpful initially, but lasting? No. It was the last part, speaking to the “spiritual”(?) that really saddened me.) “I return to my confident state of mind by reviewing my successes and my belief in myself no matter WHAT happens.”
I was honestly sickened as I reflected on what I believe has led to tragedy. We have a generation that, in the name of self-esteem, has been built up with a “confident state of mind” and “belief in myself no matter WHAT happens” while at the same time, God has become dangerous and offensive. In the past two weeks, one of our local high schools was hit by the tragedy of three individual suicides committed by students. I can’t help but wonder what led to such senseless selfishness? Where was God in their thinking? I ache for their families.
Feeling heavy-hearted, I turned on the news last night, bracing for the onslaught of bad news . . . why do I even turn it on? Do you know what they were reporting? (Silly question . . . let’s just say I’m building drama . . . . ) They were reporting that we may see “measurable SNOW”in our area tomorrow night! Suddenly that “switch” from the darkness of uncertainty and tragedy turned my heart to the HOPE of God’s provision and blessing . . . light that stamps out darkness! I fell asleep with a smile on my face as I remembered Psalm King David wrote to the Shepherd of his heart: “even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You!”*
Sleep tight friends!