Wednesday, September 27, 2017

What Are You So Afraid Of?

“Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” 
(Isaiah 41:10 NRS)

“What are you so afraid of?” I kept asking myself that question repeatedly as I packed my suitcase for a trip I suddenly did not want to take. It wasn’t the flight that had me feeling anxious, even though it was on 9/11. It wasn’t the destination. I was going to be with friends for the week. It wasn’t the task at hand I feared. I was going to ground zero of the Houston flood with my suitcase bulging with safety goggles, dry wall saws, work gloves, and lots and lots of respirator masks. I felt called to go. I wanted to go. I was prepared to go. Yet, I felt afraid.

I was afraid of the unknown.

News and social media fed the fear:
“I know a friend who found an alligator in her house after the water receded.” 
“Several rescue workers were electrocuted.”
“One volunteer I know got that flesh-eating bacteria and he almost died.”
“There is toxic mold everywhere and it’s getting worse every day!”

Sign me up? Not so much. But, faith goes where fear says, “No!”

In all of my years of ministry with parents of children with special needs, the unknown is the biggest tormentor that drives our fears. Sometimes it is our closest friends meaning to offer comfort who instead feed the fear of the unknown. “I know a friend whose child has (fill in the blank) and… (insert horror story here)” It offers no comfort. 

Yet, God promises, “Do not fear for I am with you.” The unknown holds no power in comparison to God’s offer to strengthen and uphold us. How do we prepare for the unknown? What are the “safety goggles and work gloves” of the special needs parent? We can educate ourselves about our children’s diagnoses. We can research programs and services. We can engage in financial planning for a future we cannot see. Maybe what we need most of all are spiritual respirators. Breathing in the word of God. Filtering out the anxious advice of well-meaning friends. Breathe in peace. Breathe out worry. Breathe in strength. Breathe out fear.

After all that fear of the unknown, what did I encounter in the midst of devastation? I found blessing and relationship. I volunteered through Current Church in Katy, Texas and they put a priority to helping the elderly and those without a network of support. They focused on those who were on the margins and put them at the top of the list. It was Christ-like. It was epic. It also smelled really, really bad.

God who conquers all fear, fill us with your peace. Help us face the unknown fully confident of your strength and your promise that we are never alone. Amen

2 comments:

  1. Amen! There is a rhetoric of fear running rampant in our society these days and only hurts us! I struggle with anxiety myself and it is a constant struggle to focus on God's promises and not just isolate myself to our home out of fear...but I do it! I know God keeps His promises!

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  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts Tammie. Anxiety is a challenge in our home as well. I think it comes hand in hand with autism spectrum. Prayers for peace to you you and your family.

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