Tuesday, September 26, 2017

When I am afraid

“Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:6-9 NLT

When I learned I was having serious pregnancy complications, I was afraid. The following 6 long weeks of bed rest meant opportunity to ruminate on everything that could go wrong, everything that did go wrong, and everything that I had possibly done wrong. And after all of the fear and worrying, something really did go wrong; my son was born on the first day of our third trimester. He was 13 weeks premature and weighed in at just 2 and half pounds. My husband and I spent all day of the next nine weeks hovering over his incubator in the NICU, hanging on to every word of the nurses and waiting as patiently as we could muster to change his diaper every 2 hours. Days spent in the hospital are exhausting, but nighttime is much worse. The night shift never seemed to tire of our panicked, middle of the night phone calls when we checked in on our little boy. Every time our phone would ring, I came close to panic, worrying what the NICU might be calling to tell us. It was a long road for that determined little boy to become the robust 10 year old that he is now. A journey filled with doctor appointments, therapies, special diets, ER visits, oxygen, sensory disorder, feeding aversions, sleepless nights, and fear. There was always fear on that daunting road of raising my first child.

Joshua had a daunting task ahead of him. He was to take over for Moses and lead the people into the Promised Land. But there was one problem: the Promised Land still housed the enemy! I can only imagine that Joshua felt intimidated and afraid to fill the shoes of Israel's beloved leader, Moses. Moses, the man who spoke to God face to face. Moses, the man who was considered to be God's friend. Moses, who led the people through the desert for 40 years. How could Joshua ever take his place? How could Joshua conquer Israel's enemies and take over the Promised Land? But God doesn't want for us to be afraid. He tells us through the story of Joshua, to be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid! God will never fail us or abandon us, but will be with us wherever we go. When God repeats Himself, we know the words He speaks are important. Three times in these three little verses, God repeats these words: "Be strong and courageous!" God does not give us fear, rather, He says that perfect love casts out all fear. God's perfect love for us casts out fear.

I find it so easy to let my worries overtake me. It's easy to focus on our fears over our faith, especially when we are faced with medical challenges, IEP's, sleepless nights, and difficult days. Fear and worry can be relentless. But God doesn't want us to be afraid at all! God does not want me to fear the future, or worry about the present, or face anxiety from the past. God wants us to draw near to Him because He will be with us wherever we go. How we do move from the place of worry and fear into the place of peace and love? How do we evacuate the fear enemy from the Promised Land? By continually reviewing the Word of God and by constantly renewing ourselves through God's Promises, drawing closer to Him one little step at a time. God can replace our fear of the unknown with peace in Him. Whether we're leading a mission team into a foreign land or piling another load of laundry into the washing machines, God is with us!

Dear God, Please renew my faith and conquer my fear! Help me to focus on You instead of the worries and anxieties that weigh me down. Most of all, help me to know Your constant Presence each and every day. Amen

Amanda Furbeck

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