When I am Afraid

Guincho Beach outside of Cascais, Portugal (Photo by Mark J Booth)

Guincho Beach outside of Cascais, Portugal (Photo by Mark J Booth)

“What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” (Psalm 56:3)

“Mom, please leave the hall light on and don’t close the door.” These words were almost a nightly ritual when I was a child. Growing up I was afraid of many things. When I went to bed, I was afraid of the dark. When I went to school, I was afraid of failure. When I tried to become friends with someone, I was afraid of rejection. When I heard about somebody having cancer, I was afraid that I would get cancer. Being afraid is something that we struggle with throughout our lives.  We may outgrow some of our childhood fears, but we replace them with new fears.

As adults, we may suppress our fears before others, but deep down, we have to admit that we are still afraid of many things. We are afraid of what the future holds in our lives.  We fear rejection by people around us. Fear can overtake us as we contemplate death.  Sickness or financial reversal always seem to be lurking around the corner. We dread what will happen next.

Being afraid has been a reality since the fall of man. Adam and Eve were afraid of God after they had eaten the forbidden fruit. Abraham was afraid of Pharaoh when he and Sarah fled to Egypt to escape a famine. Moses was afraid of being executed for murder; so he fled to the wilderness. The disciples were afraid of the storm, and cried out to the Lord. Peter was afraid of those who were warming up by the fire; so he  denied the Lord.  John Mark was afraid of persecution for preaching the Gospel; so he abandoned his mission work.

David faced several events in his life that caused him to be afraid.  How did he handle those times of fear. In Psalm 56:3, David writes: “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.”  David understood the reality of his fear, but he also remembered the reality of God. Let’s join David and see how we are to handle those times when we are afraid.

Before we can share our fear with God, we must recognize that we are afraid. Most of the time we are afraid of the “What ifs” in life. “What if something happens to me?” “What if I lose my job?” “What if I can’t complete my assignment?” Our fears often creep up upon us in an unexpected way. Soon, we become paralyzed by our fear, like a deer staring into the headlights of an oncoming car.

Other times, we become afraid of something that is not imaginary, but very real. We receive bad news from the doctor. We receive a notice in our mailbox that our house will soon be repossessed. David recognizes these times of being afraid. He doesn’t face his fear with a false bravado, but he recognizes his fear. He knows that the relief from his fear doesn’t come from within himself, but in the Living God.

After recognizing his fear, David focuses upon the One who can take care of his fear. God alone has the power, strength, love, and wisdom to carry us through our fear.  When the disciples were afraid of the storm, they went to Jesus who was sleeping in the boat. They knew that He alone could calm the storm about them. Yes, the storm was threatening. Yes, the storm was violent, but they knew that the Lord would carry them through this storm.

Our fears often control us because we forget the greatness of our God. David, as he faced Goliath, recognized that there was One greater than Goliath. Our God can deal with whatever Goliath we are facing. The more we grow in our knowledge of God, the more we will live a life free from fear.

After recognizing his fear, and focusing upon God’s greatness, David now entrusts his life to God. The word “trust” in Psalm 56:3 has the idea of leaning upon. David understands that the only way to conquer his fear is to totally lean upon God as he walks through the dangerous path that is before him.

As David wrote in Psalm 23, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;” Even in the most dangerous road of all, death, David is not afraid because he is leaning upon the Lord who is walking with him through this very dark valley.

Like David, we face many dangerous roads. Yes, some of the dangers are imaginary, but many of the dangers are real. If we choose to walk those dangerous roads alone. our fears will consume us. However, if we choose to lean upon Our Loving, All-Powerful Lord, we can walk upon the most dangerous road with courage.

“Dear Lord, we live in a world filled with danger. We find it easy allow fear to control us.  especially when we forget you. Help us to lean upon you completely, as we travel every dangerous road that is before us.  We do not ask to live a life without danger, but please be with us as we travel into danger. Thank you for allowing us to lean upon you no matter how dark the path is before us. Teach us that we don’t have to be afraid, because you are greater than any fear. Amen”

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God’s Waiting Room

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A doctor’s waiting room is not a pleasant place. Yes, there are comfortable chairs, a TV, and magazines. However, somebody is sitting in the office waiting for test results that will bring bad news.  Another person is waiting for a procedure that may or may not work. Another person is fidgeting because they are growing very impatient. Another person is anxious because they don’t know how they will pay their large medical bills. Another person looks completely bored as they continually look at the clock.

God’s waiting room is much like a doctor’s waiting room.  As we wait upon God, fear and anxiety can creep into our lives.  We don’t know what plans God has for us. For this reason, we worry about our future.  We are filled with pain, whether it be physical, emotional or spiritual. We wonder how long must I continue with this pain. We can become upset with God because He is keeping us in His waiting room longer than we would like.

God’s waiting room is one of the most difficult places for a believer. We want God to come and relieve us of our fear and anxiety quickly. We want God to change our lives now and make us a super Christian.  We get tired of the daily drudgery of our lives. The pain is constant and no relief is in sight. We feel like we are drowning and coming up for air one last time, and God’s hand is not there to pull us out.

David had some of these feelings throughout his life. He faced a lengthy time of persecution by King Saul. He struggled with his own guilt over his sin with Bathsheba.  He faced many other fearful, anxious and painful situations. How did David respond to being in God’s waiting room?  Psalm 40 helps us to join David in God’s waiting room.

“I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.  And he hath put a new song in my mouth,even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord. (Psalm 40:1-3)

David understood that there are times in life in which we must spend time in God’s waiting room.  In David’s case, it was a deep pit from which he couldn’t escape. God often makes us wait so that He can teach us some very important lessons about ourselves and His person. He makes us wait because it is part of His perfect plan for our lives. God’s waiting room is also a place to teach us faith and patience.

God in His timing will take us out of His waiting room and respond to our cries. God heard David’s cry and took him out of the pit and placed him upon the solid rock. God gave David the grace to continue serving Him and ministering to others. Likewise, our waiting room experience will enable us to have a greater capacity to serve the Lord and minister to others. We will have learned the art of dependence upon God in the waiting room.

The greatest blessing of being in God’s waiting room is to share our experience with others. David’s experience caused him to give praise unto God. When people saw David’s response to God’s working in his life, they learned the lesson of trust for their own lives. They understood that if God was with David in the waiting room, He will also be with me.

John Bunyan spent several years in the Bedford jail. His crime was that he preached the gospel of Jesus Christ. While in jail, Bunyan produced one of the greatest Christian books ever written, called “The Pilgrim’s Progress.”  Even today, many people have been blessed by John Bunyan’s waiting room experience.

Like Bunyan, God will give us a message to share with others while we are in His waiting room.  It may not be a book, but it will be a message about God’s faithfulness, love and deliverance.  Faith means that no matter what happens in my life, God is in control and He will ultimately use it for His glory and the benefit of others.

Today, if you feel as though you would like to escape God’s waiting room, don’t!  God is right there with you in the waiting room though you may not see Him working or understand what He is doing. The waiting room is a place of patience and faith. God’s timing is not always our timing, but it is the best timing.

“Dear Lord, I am in pit that is dark, deep and hopeless. I know that you tell me to wait, but I can’t stay in your waiting room much longer. Please give me the faith to see that this waiting room is your will for my life. I know that you hear my cry. Help me to believe that one day, you will set me on the solid rock. Thank you for being with me in this waiting room.  Thank you for the opportunity to give praise to your name and have a ministry to others. Even in this waiting room, I love you, Lord. Amen.”

Thoughts about My Teachers (Teacher Appreciation Week)

Please Note: This post was published in my “Growing Up in Highland Park, MI” blog.  I thought some of my subscribers would relate to what I wrote about teachers.

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week.  I don’t know if we ever had a Teacher Appreciation Week when I went to school, but I do know that I never showed any real appreciation to my teachers. Why wasn’t I appreciative of the efforts of my many teachers?

Growing up and going to school, I basically lived in my own little world.  My focus was upon myself, sometimes family and a few friends. I never thought about the lives of the teachers that I had throughout my days in school. Teachers were like the furniture in the school. They were a necessary fixture. Yes, many were nice and a few not so nice.  However, I never really thought about them as people. I never thought about the fact that they had personal lives with heartaches, problems, sicknesses, and needs. I don’t think I ever said “thank you” or an encouraging word to any of my teachers.

Today I am typing this post because I had teachers that taught me how to read, and write.  Several teachers poured themselves into teaching me grammar and spelling. I had an eighth grade teacher that taught me how to type. My tenth grade speech teacher gave me my first lessons in public speaking.  Now, as a pastor, I preach the Word of God three times a week. There are many other things that I learned in school, that I use today. Yet, I rarely think about the teacher that taught me the very things that I know today.

I am sure that I am not alone in taking teachers for granted. Teachers are a group of people who are always giving out, but they don’t get much in return from those to whom they give so much. As a parent or a student, it would be great to give a word of encouragement to a teacher. You can be the source of refreshment to a teacher who may truly be thirsting for someone to care about them.P.S. I originally wrote parts of this post after hearing that one of my teachers had committed suicide several years ago.  It woke me up to the fact that my teachers had real needs, but I was too self-centered to think about them as people.
P.S. I originally wrote parts of this post after hearing that one of my teachers had committed suicide several years ago.  It woke me up to the fact that my teachers had real needs, but I was too self-centered to think about them as people.

Does Jesus Care? (1 Peter 5:7)

Guincho Beach in Portugal (Photo by Mark J. Booth)

Guincho Beach in Portugal (Photo by Mark J. Booth)

Does Jesus care about what is happening in my life? Does He care about me personally? Many believers to whom Peter wrote had these same questions, because they were facing a period of great persecution for their faith. Their safety and well-being were in peril.  Peter understood persecution.  He had endured imprisonment, and misunderstanding. Jesus had clearly prophesied that one day Peter would die a violent for His sake.

Peter encouraged these beleaguered believers with a letter of a great hope in Jesus Christ. Peter reminded the believers that Jesus does know and care about what is happening in their lives.  The words: “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) brought great comfort to the readers of Peter’s letter. Today, these same words bring comfort, encouragement and hope to each one of us.

What does it mean “to cast our care upon Jesus”. First of all the word “care” has the idea of a burden, worry, or an anxious thought. There are many causes of “care” in our lives.

  1. We have the “care” for things that are outside of ourselves.  These include natural catastrophes, rejection by others, and political conflict in our nation.  Our news media has a great knack of creating anxiety upon those who are watching or listening to what they have to say. We feel helpless in the midst of a world that seems to be spinning out of control.
  2. We have the “care” for our loved ones. Many a parent lives a life filled with worry because of their children. We worry about their safety, their future, and their health. Perhaps, we have loved ones who have turned aside from the Lord. This also creates anxiety.
  3. We have the “care” concerning our own lives. We have anxiety over our future, our finances, our failures, our sins, and our health.  As we grow older we become anxious about death and leaving our loved ones behind. If a person doesn’t have the assurance of their salvation, there is the worry about life after death.

Peter admits that we have “cares” but he also tells us what to do with these cares.  Our cares are to be “cast” upon Jesus. The word “cast” has the idea of throwing a weight and placing it upon an object that can bear the weight. Perhaps, the idea can be seen by throwing a bale of hay on a wagon. Why carry the bale of hay when the wagon can do the work?

Why do we carry our “cares” with us when Jesus can carry any load that we place upon Him. He wants us to “cast our all of our cares” upon Him because He cares about what happens in our life. He died for us when we were his enemies. Will He not take care of us, now that we belong to Him?

What keeps us from casting all of our cares upon Jesus?  Could it be pride?  Could it be stubbornness? Could it be a lack of faith? Jesus’ arms are open. He is saying: “Give me that “care” that has you feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and discouraged. I can handle anything you give me. Will you not trust me today?”