Bible Verses on Overcoming Fear and Worry

verses-fear

  • Exodus 14:13
    And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again (ESV)
  • Deuteronomy 31:
    Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
  • Joshua 1:9
    Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened,and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
  • Nehemiah 4:14
    After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”
  • Psalm 23:4
    Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
  • Psalm 27:1
    The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
  • Psalm 34:4
    “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”
  • Psalm 56:3
    When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
  • Psalm 56:4
    In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid.  What can mere mortals do to me?
  • Psalm 91:4-6
    He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
  • Psalm 112:7
    He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.
  • Isaiah 35:4Say to those with fearful hearts,
    “Be strong, and do not fear,
    for your God is coming to destroy your enemies.
    He is coming to save you.”
  • Isaiah 41:10
    So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
  • Isaiah 41:13
    “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
  • Isaiah 44:8
    Fear not, nor be afraid;
    have I not told you from of old and declared it?
    And you are my witnesses!
    Is there a God besides me?
    There is no Rock; I know not any.”
  • Isaiah 51:12
    “I, I am he who comforts you;
    who are you that you are afraid of man who dies,
    of the son of man who is made like grass,
  • Jeremiah 1:8
    Do not be afraid of them,
    for I am with you to deliver you,
    declares the Lord.”
  • Zephaniah 3:17
    For the LORD your God is living among you.
    He is a mighty savior.
    He will take delight in you with gladness.
    With his love, he will calm all your fears.[a]
    He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
  • Matthew 6:34
    Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
  • Matthew 10:31
     Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
  • Mark 5:36
    But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” (ESV)
  • Luke 1:74-75
    We have been rescued from our enemies
    so we can serve God without fear,
    in holiness and righteousness
    for as long as we live.
  • Luke 12:32
    “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
  • John 6:19-20
    They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified, 20 but he called out to them,“Don’t be afraid. I am here!”
  • John 14:27
    Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
  • Acts 18:9
    And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent,
  • Romans 8:38
    And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
  • 2 Timothy 1:7
     for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
  • Hebrews 13:6
     So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
  • 1 John 4:18
    There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

I do not know

2 chronicles 20

The high school band awards banquet was a little different this year, just like all of our end-of-the-year celebrations.  We’ve had drive-through graduations and drive-through kindergarten completion ceremonies, kindergarten dance parties over Zoom, and awards announced on YouTube.

On band banquet night, instead of being with the band or being at a banquet, I rushed home from another meeting to pull up YouTube and watch on my laptop while I folded laundry in my living room.

My daughter’s band director wore his normal suit and tie while announcing well-deserved awards and identifying next year’s leaders, keeping as many things normal for them as he possibly could.

Then he said the oh-so-familiar words:

I don’t know.

I don’t know what marching band season will look like next year or if we’ll even have one, but the best thing we can do is to prepare as if  it will be a normal year.

I’m  a choral director and I’m in the middle  of planning Christmas music, but everything I say begins like this:  I don’t know what it will be like, but….

I’m a mom with four kids who are all anxious about the fall.  Two of my children are leveling up to new schools they’ve never attended before, so that’s extra-new and extra-anxiety-producing for them.  They ask me about schedules and classes and extracurricular activities and I have to say it every single day right now:  I don’t know how it will be next year….

I’m a church leader trying to minister and plan who just keeps saying the same thing at meetings, “I don’t know whether this will work or not, but….”

I. Don’t. Know.

It’s been a deeply humbling season of uncertainty and dependency.  I can’t know so I can’t plan and I can’t rely on those plans.

It’s every week and every day waking up to  handle just this moment, this need, this task ,this decision, this day’s reality, and then being content at the end of the day with just making it through today and moving on to tomorrow.

The truth is, if I think too much about a month from now or three months from now, I’m overcome—just washed over by a wave of anxiety in an ocean of panic and sorrow about all the loss and all the change.

Stormie O’Martian wrote a book called Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On and I’ve been thinking about that step-by-step life of trust. I have to lean into Jesus so I can see the step He’s lighting for me.   No rushing ahead or stumbling ahead or falling dangerously ahead of the light He gives.

One.  Step.  At.  A.  Time.

And that’s enough.

In 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat faced a multitude of armies threatening his kingdom all at once.   He didn’t have just one enemy to fight.  The Moabites and the Edomites and the Meunites had all gathered for battle against him.

He was afraid.

Of course, he was afraid. God knows it’s so easy for us to all be afraid of these enemies amassing against us.

He didn’t cower, though, nor did he rush in to save the day with his own strength, with battle strategies or soldier recruitment plans, or the counsel of his generals.

Scripture says:

Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.  And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord (2 Chronicles 20:3-4).

He prayed.  He fasted.  He asked others to pray and fast with him.  He earnestly sought the Lord.

He said the very words and prayed the very prayer that I have been returning to since March:

…For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 2 Chronicles 20:12 ESV

I truly am so powerless in this.  I am not in charge of what school will look like in the fall or the rule about gatherings or whether there is meat and toilet paper in the store on the day I happen to shop.

We are powerless and we do not know what to do, Lord, but our eyes are on you.

My eyes keep wanting to shift their focus.  They are wayward.  I look at the problems, at the world, at the news, at the numbers, at the Governor’s announcements, and at the Facebook and Instagram drama.

Fix my eyes, my heart, my mind on you alone, Jesus.   In the moments when I do not know what to do (and there are so many, Lord), help me look to you and you alone. 

 

Bible Verses about Seeking the Lord Continually

  • Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.
  • Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.
  • Psalm 34:1
    Psalm 34 ] [ The Lord Delivers the Righteous ] [ Concerning David, when he pretended to be insane in the presence of Abimelech, who drove him out, and he departed. ]
    I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.
  • Psalm 71:14
    But I will hope continually and will praise you more and more.
  • How happy are those who reside in your house, who praise you continuallySelah
  •  Psalm 119:20
    I am continually overcome with longing for your judgments.
  • Hosea 12:6
    But you must return to your God. Maintain love and justice, and always put your hope in God.
  • The Parable of the Persistent Widow ] Now he told them a parable on the need for them to pray always and not give up.
  • giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
  • Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
  • Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.
  • Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:17
    pray constantly,
  • Hebrews 13:15
    Therefore, through him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.

All that worry and everything was canceled

 

I have fretted this year.

Oh, how I have fretted.

I lost sleep in January and again in February because I was worrying over planning events, over getting enough volunteers, over whether we should hold our huge church egg hunt on this particular Saturday or on the Sunday before?

I wrestled with calendars.  I made a plan, had a meeting with someone that changed my mind, contemplated  the plan some more, sought counsel  from others, stuck with the original  plan—and second-guessed myself the whole time.

I  stressed about our soccer schedule.  I stressed over how to get my kids to soccer, an orientation night at the high school, and to a math competition all at the same time in different parts of our county.

I worried about events and trips my kids  and I were looking forward to.  How would we pay for everything and how was the schedule going to work out?  We had trips to Disney, Boston, Italy, and Montana all in the works.  They were all good things—all incredibly wonderful opportunities.

Still I worried.  About plane tickets and getting to the airport and renewing my passport and everything about traveling that stresses me out (which is everything).

None of these things are actually happening.

I invested so many hours and lost so much sleep  worrying over things that have now been canceled or altered beyond recognition.

There’s no soccer season.  There was no math bowl  or area chorus or countywide music concert.  There is no trip to Disney or Italy or Boston.

We didn’t hold our egg hunt on the Saturday or the Sunday.  It was completely new and different and not like anything I imagined when I started planning in January.

Maybe it sounds like I’m a never-ending tangle of angst over here, and it’s true that I’m definitely not a happy-go-lucky whatever-may-come kind of person.

I’m a super-planner.

And super-planners like to have plans and to follow plans and not to deviate from plans.

Still, over the years God has stretched me and lovingly nudged me into  spiritual growth and new levels of trust and dependence on Him.  I’ve seen the progress.  I’m not as bad as I used to be.

But sitting here in the middle of coronavirus quarantine, feeling unsure of when we’re allowed out of our houses much less when we can go back to work, school, and church, makes me feel oh-so-tempted to tumble back into the pit of fretting.

There are too many things unplanned.   Too many things I can’t possibly plan.  I have far more questions than I do answers.  Maybe I don’t even feel like answers exist right now.

But whenever I’m tempted to start fretting over this mess, I remember this:

In January and February, I spent hours and hours worrying about the date of an egg hunt that DIDN’T HAPPEN.

See where that got me?

I worried so much then about making the perfect decision and not picking the wrong day to hold an egg hunt.  It turns out, no decision even mattered.  Only God had the full knowledge of what was to come.  Only He had the big perspective.

I read this today in Proverbs:

Anxiety in a person’s heart weighs it down,
but a good word cheers it up (Proverbs 12:25 CSB).

Weighed down by worry.  Yes.

I have pulled that two-ton weight of worry behind me, dragging it along, letting it steal the joy in this moment  because I’m fretting over the moments to come.

Jesus told us how pointless that is:

And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? (Matthew 6:27 NASB).

I am tempted to worry every single time I scroll Facebook, listen to a news conference, and examine a line graph right now.   So, I’m in this place of continually challenging my thoughts and continually catching that worry and dismissing it.

I ask myself the question, “Where has any of your worrying gotten you so far this year?”

Nowhere.

What has been a blessing this year?

This: Seeing how God has helped us with unexpected answers to completely unanticipated problems.

Our egg hunt reached so many kids this year and it was delivered to their homes rather than held at one time in the lawn on our church property.  God did a new thing and He did it perfectly.

I feel like I’m one-minute away from fretting at all times around here right now.  And yet, I’m also one minute away from a completely different choice:

I can sit back and watch what God will do.

Take a breath.

And trust.

 

Bible Verses for the Storms We Face

  • 1 Kings 19:11-12 ESV
    And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.
  • Job 38:1 ESV
    Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind…
  • Psalm 55:8 ESV
    I would hurry to find a shelter
        from the raging wind and tempest.
  • Psalm 107:25 ESV
    For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
        which lifted up the waves of the sea.
  • Psalm 107:29 ESV
    He made the storm be still,
        and the waves of the sea were hushed.
  • Proverbs 10:25 ESV
    When the tempest passes, the wicked is no more,
        but the righteous is established forever.
  • Isaiah 4:6 ESV
    It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.
  • Isaiah 25:4 ESV
    For you have been a stronghold to the poor,
        a stronghold to the needy in his distress,
        a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat;
    for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall,
  • Isaiah 29:6 ESV
    you will be visited by the Lord of hosts
    with thunder and with earthquake and great noise,
        with whirlwind and tempest, and the flame of a devouring fire.
  • Isaiah 32:1-2 ESV
    Behold, a king will reign in righteousness,
        and princes will rule in justice.
    Each will be like a hiding place from the wind,
        a shelter from the storm,
    like streams of water in a dry place,
        like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.
  • Isaiah 43:1-2 ESV
    But now thus says the Lord,
    he who created you, O Jacob,
        he who formed you, O Israel:
    “Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
        I have called you by name, you are mine.
    When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
        and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
    when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
        and the flame shall not consume you.
  • Isaiah 54:11 NLT
    O storm-battered city,
        troubled and desolate!
    I will rebuild you with precious jewels
        and make your foundations from lapis lazuli.
  • Nahum 1:3 ESV
    The Lord is slow to anger and great in power,
        and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty.
    His way is in whirlwind and storm,
        and the clouds are the dust of his feet.
  • Zechariah 10:1 ESV
    Ask rain from the Lord
        in the season of the spring rain,
    from the Lord who makes the storm clouds,
        and he will give them showers of rain,
        to everyone the vegetation in the field
  • Matthew 7:24-27 ESV
    Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
  • Matthew 8:26 ESV
     And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.
  • Mark 4:39 ESV
    And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
  • Luke 8:24 ESV
    And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm.
  • Hebrews 12:18-19 ESV
     For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them.
  • James 1:6 ESV
    But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

Scary Noises, Hiding in Closets, and Faith over Fear

Last summer,  my girls arrived home from camp exhausted and carrying loads of dirty laundry packed into their overnight bags.  They needed some post-camp rest and recovery time at home while I started in on the loads of laundry.

They came home a few days after July 4th, but a nearby community had saved their fireworks display for that weekend so I gave my girls the option:  Come with us to the fireworks that night or stay home and rest while we go.  (Hurray for having teenagers old enough to stay home on their own and babysit when needed!).

So, off we went to the celebration while they hung out in their rooms in the comfort of their own home.

A few minutes into our fireworks display, though, my daughter called me, sounding terrified:  There were strange “squeaking” noises outside in the yard.

Squeaking?

Yes, squeaking.

I coached her through some possible scenarios and made sure she didn’t hear anyone at the door or in the house.  They didn’t sound in danger, so  I suggested maybe something was making that sound in our neighbor’s yard.  Could they just peek outside the window or a door and see what the noise was?

No way!   She and her sister were staying as far away from windows and doors as possible.

In fact, they had hidden themselves away, locking the bedroom door and hunkering down in a closet.  My one girl had grabbed her bo staff from her karate classes.  My other daughter was weaponless, so  she grabbed a hobby horse from her brother’s closet, figuring (I guess) that it was part stick and could therefore be weaponized.

I  messaged my neighbors, and kept in contact with my girls while we drove home.  Then I finally tracked down the source of the “squeaking.”  One of our neighbors had set off some backyard fireworks that night, including some that screamed and squealed when lit.   Mystery solved.

But my daughters still felt a little shaken.  The karate bo staff didn’t make it back into the closet for a few days.  I took the time to review the emergency phone numbers we kept by the phone and how to call our neighbors for help if they ever needed it.

Looking  back, of course, we could all have a good laugh.  A neighbor sets off some fireworks and my kids lock themselves in closets with sticks.

Still, I get fear.  I get what it’s like to hide away, to  cry out for help, and to grab frantically for defense when I feel trapped or attacked.  I get how fear paralyzes and how it backs you into a corner.

In the book of Mark, I read about how the disciples scattered in terror when Judas betrayed Jesus.  The Roman soldiers marched into the garden where Jesus was praying and they marched out again with Jesus as their prisoner.

Mark says:

Then they all deserted him and ran away  (Mark 14:50 CSB).

Unlike most of the others,  Peter had enough courage to linger nearby.   He “followed him at a distance, right  into the high priest’s courtyard” (Mark 14:54 CSB).

How brave would I have been?  Would I have scattered?  Would I have followed at a distance?  Would I have stormed into the trial and tried to  defend Jesus or instead hunched by the fire so that no one knew I was his follower?

Would I have denied Jesus as Peter did that night, three times pretending not to know Jesus when people asked?

I think perhaps Peter was braver and more courageous than I could have been.  He loved Jesus enough to follow that mob of soldiers and stayed nearby even thought he risked being caught himself.

The notes in my Bible say this about Peter, though:

…as with many believers, he allowed his human fears to overcome his spiritual  resources, which were available to give him strength for the difficult times.

My girls heard a scary, unidentifiable noise and they reached for every resource they had available:  a phone call to mom, a lock on a bedroom door, and some big sticks (including a hobby horse).

What do I grab for when I’m afraid?

God has equipped us with these spiritual resources:  HIS Word, HIS Character, HIS Strength, HIS Promises, HIS Spirit, HIS fruit.

May I never allow my human fears to overcome all that God gives me.  May I learn to rely on who God is, on His great love, and on His might and His mercy instead of any human strength (weak as it is) I can muster on my own.

As the Psalmist said:

When I am afraid,
I will trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?  (Psalm 56:3-4 CSB).  

 

 

The Unexpectedness of God | Advent

I bought the gift online and the box arrived on my porch yesterday.

It was quite a large box , much larger than I expected.  I couldn’t imagine what could possibly be inside since nothing I’d ordered would be that bulky.

I dropped the load I had in my hands inside the front door and hauled the package inside,  cutting it open quickly with scissors.  That’s when I found the surprise.

My son has two things topping his Christmas wish list:  Lego sets and dinosaur toys.  So, when this particular T-Rex toy went on super-sale on Black Friday online, I snatched  it up, knowing he’d love it.  The T-Rex is  his favorite  dinosaur and he always loves this brand o f toys.  I expected it to be a few inches tall like all the other toys we have by this same toymaker.

But this was beyond all expectation.  This T-Rex stands at least 5 times larger than all  the other action figures and is so big that he can “eat” the other toys and swallow them down into his expansive belly.

My son is going to love this.

I would never, ever have bought this toy knowingly, but this accident and this surprise will  probably be the hit of his Christmas morning.  I can’t wait.

Sometimes it can be so hard to “work up” anticipation, expectation and joy during the Advent season.  Calendars bog us down.  “Must-do’s”  and “have-to’s” can stifle our spirit.  Grief and even just disappointment at how the year turned out can weary us.

I need the reminder (maybe others do also?) about the unexpectedness of God.  How He breaks down the boxes we cram Him into.   We package Him up,  and He surprises us.   He is bigger and grander and far more unexpected than our wildest expectations.

I think I know how situations will unfold and sometimes I settle into thinking that “this will never change.” I see the problem.  I see the complications.  I see the mess.

But God.

I want to  see Him, who is able to do more and to do it in the most wildly creative way.  I cannot trust in my plans or my solutions and fixes, but I can trust in our Mighty God.

I remember Paul’s song of praise in Ephesians:

Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us—  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.  (Ephesians 3:20-21 CSB).

God is the defier expectations.  He is our Above-and-Beyond God.

In my Advent devotional this week, the readings began in Genesis, telling why we need a Savior, how because of our sin we needed a Rescuer and Deliverer who could restore our relationship with God.

And Adam and Eve knew this.  They heard God’s curse on the serpent:

I will put hostility between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring.
He will strike your head,
and you will strike his heel (Genesis 3:15 CSB).  

They knew that Another—a Deliverer—would come to defeat the serpent once and for all.

But what would this look like?  How would the Deliverer come?   How long would they have to wait?

Surely they could not have imagined as they headed out of the Garden of Eden how Jesus would come, how He would be born, how His rescue would come through His perfect life and sacrificial death.  Surely they could not have known the long line of generations who would wait for the coming of the Messiah.

My devotional reading says this:

“Scholar James Boice says Adam and Eve likely thought Cain was the deliverer who would defeat the serpent that God  promised in Genesis 3:15.  It’s even reflected in the name they gave him…In view of the promise of a  deliverer, [Cain’s] name probably means, ‘Here he is’ or ‘I’ve gotten him.’ Eve called her son ‘Here he is’ because she thought the deliverer had been sent by God.” (Advent, Lifeway Women, p. 14)

In Genesis 3, God says there will be a Deliverer.  In Genesis 4, Eve is pregnant and gives birth to Cain, the first human baby ever.

Maybe Adam and Eve truly thought this baby was the one who would rescue and restore them.  Cain would be the promised one.

But God.

They could have grown disappointed and discouraged with Cain’s failure and how nothing turned out the way they expected.

Still, God had a plan they could never have imagined, the perfect Savior who would come at the perfect time:

When the time came to completion, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,  to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons (Galatians 4:4-5 CSB).

 

Bible Verses and a Prayer about Waiting

  • Psalm 25:4-5 ESV
    Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
    teach me your paths.
    Lead me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are the God of my salvation;
    for you I wait all the day long.
  • Psalm 27:13-14
    I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
  • Psalm 33:20-22
    We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, LORD,   even as we put our hope in you.
  • Psalm 37:7 ESV
    Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
    fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
    over the man who carries out evil devices!
  • Psalm 37:9 ESV
    For the evildoers shall be cut off,
    but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.
  • Psalm 40:1-3 ESV
    I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he inclined to me and heard my cry.
    He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
    out of the miry bog,
    and set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.
    He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to our God.
    Many will see and fear,
    and put their trust in the Lord.
  • Psalm 62:5 ESV
    For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
    for my hope is from him.
  • Psalm 130:5-6 NIV
    I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.
    I wait for the Lord
    more than watchmen wait for the morning,
    more than watchmen wait for the morning.
  • Isaiah 30:18 ESV
    Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
    and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
    For the Lord is a God of justice;
    blessed are all those who wait for him.
  • Isaiah 40:29-31 HCSB
    He gives strength to the weary

    and strengthens the powerless.
    Youths may faint and grow weary,
    and young men stumble and fall,
    but those who trust in the Lord
    will renew their strength;
    they will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary;
    they will walk and not faint.

  • Isaiah 64:4 NIV
    Since ancient times no one has heard,
    no ear has perceived,
    no eye has seen any God besides you,
    who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
  • Lamentations 3:25 ESV
    The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
    to the soul who seeks him.
  • Micah 7:7 NIV
    But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord,
    I wait for God my Savior;
    my God will hear me.
  • James 5:7-8 HCSB
    Therefore, brothers, be patient until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth and is patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, because the Lord’s coming is near.

Say to those with fearful hearts

At the amusement park, after we’ve parked  the minivan and handed over our passes to be scanned and our bags to be checked, we head for the measuring station .

Only one of my kids still needs to be measured.  My girls have long since passed the point where they can ride anything in the park because of their height.

My son, though, is still tracking his growth progress through wrist band colors.  Each color tells him what he can ride based on how tall he is.

Somehow between the start of summer to the early fall, he shot up through three different colors on the ride chart.   That means technically he can ride his first big roller coaster.

This is thrilling to him.  He announces to each member of the family what color he’s on now.

But when I ask him if he really wants to ride any of the bigger rides—any of them at all—-he says, “I’ll do that when I’m 7.”

He’s taller than he is brave.

I remind him that the colors don’t really matter if we’re not going to ride any of the higher, faster rides, but he’s thrilled just the same.  He celebrates physical growth and that’s enough for him.

Not all of my kids have been like this, but most of them have (three out of the four).  We are timid about these things,  more likely to enjoy the small swings,  the bumper cars and the kiddie roller coaster long after others have moved on to bigger thrills.

We’re not born brave.  We’re  not naturally bold.  Courage isn’t part of our DNA.

(I’m still not a thrill-seeker.  At almost 40 years old, I’d rather not ride any rides at all . Even the spinning teacups aren’t my favorite.)

I can have fun at an amusement park without the speed and the rush and the drops that I hate so much.

But in life, fear can be so  much more crippling than this:  stealing joy, stealing peace, stealing boldness for the gospel and courage for Christ, stealing sleep.   It’s not about preference—rides or no rides.  It’s about fear holding me back from obeying Christ or keeping me from fully entrusting myself, my family, my kids to God.

Sometimes, all the anxiety over taking a next step can be utterly paralyzing.  What I really need to  do is just do  it.  Just take the step.   Just have  the conversation.  Just sign up or just step down.  Whatever God is asking me to  do, I need to do in obedience.   Faith over fear.  Trust over timidity.

Still I waiver so often.

Still I feel that paralysis of indecision and anxiety.

Still I try so hard to keep control over the many things I cannot control.

In the Everyday with Jesus Bible, Selwyn Hughes reminds me of what fear does and why it’s our enemy:

Fear sinks us:  When Peter stepped out of the boat, he “saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord,  save me!'” (Matthew 14:30 CSB).

Fear knocks us down:  When the disciples saw the glory of the Lord at the Mount  of Transfiguration, their fear sent them to their knees.  But, “Jesus came up, touched them, and said, ‘Get up; don’t be afraid.'” (Matthes 17:7 CSB).

Fear hides our treasures and gifts:  The man with one talent in the parable said, “I was afraid and went off and hid your talent in the ground.”  His talent was wasted, buried in the earth and shoved into a hole in the ground because of fear.(Matthew 25:25 CSB).

Fear puts us behind closed doors:  After Jesus’s resurrection, the disciples gathered in secret, “with the doors locked because they feared the Jews. Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.”” (John 20:19 CSB). 

“Fear drives us underground:” Joseph of Arimathea was “a disciple of Jesus—but secretly because of his fear of the Jews” (John 19:38 CSB).

I wonder how often I let fears from my past hold me back in the here and now.  Maybe I’ve grown. Maybe I’ve gone up a few colors on the growth chart, and yet I’m still sticking to the same-old same-old, the easiest and the most comfortable things before me instead of moving on.

Isaiah the prophet said:

Say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, and do not fear,
for your God is coming to destroy your enemies.
He is coming to save you.” (Isaiah 35:4)

Maybe these are words we can speak to fearful hearts around us.

Or  maybe this is the reminder our own fearful heart needs:  “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming….”

It’s because of his presence, His strength, His might, His mercy that we fearful ones can take the next courageous step.

 

Snow Boots without Snow

One year, I wrapped my kids’ feet in Ziploc bags before tying on their shoes and sending them out into the snow.

I live in southeastern Virginia, where we get snow sometimes.  Some years it’s a lot and other years not so much.

So, it’s a gamble, you see, whether purchasing snow boots and snow pants is a worthwhile investment or a complete waste of money.

That one year when all my kids were little and had snow boots, I can’t remember a single snowflake sticking to the ground.

But the following year, I had to resort to Ziploc bags inside the sneakers because I hadn’t bought snowboots and inevitably we had buckets of snow.

Since then, I’ve begun hunting for snow boots in all seasons and in all sizes at consignment shops in thrift stores.  I don’t want to pay full price for them, but I do want to have them on hand just in case.

This year I have put my thrifty shopping skills to work and found snow boots and snow pants in all the sizes for all the kids.

Of course, we’ve had a virtually snow-less winter with just one fluke snowstorm in early December.  It’s plenty cold here, but our snow attire is sitting completely unused in a bin in my closet.

I realize as I write this there’s probably some monumental snow event on the horizon for us.  For the record, I’m not saying I want a blizzard!   I don’t love shuffling plans and appointments around because of unexpected weather.   And I really don’t like having to make up any snow days by going  to school during a vacation.

But it’s always just worth a shake of my head and a slightly exasperated giggle that on the years I feel most prepared for snow we are virtually snow-less.  And on years I decline to prepare, we experience snowmageddon or something equally apocalyptic.

Maybe the lesson for me is that preparation in itself is worthwhile.

There’s not always going to be this direct, easily  visible connection to usefulness, but God can be trusted.

Some years, I’ll buy snow boots and there will be snow.  I’ll feel prepared and justified, wise, and ready.

Other years, I’ll buy snow boots and it won’t really snow.  But I’ll tuck them away and pull them out for a future storm when they’re now hand-me-downs for another child.  I’m still prepared, but the connection wasn’t as clear or as direct.

It’s God’s sovereignty I can trust.  His wisdom.  His all-knowing ability  to work in me now, in my life and in my heart and in my mind, all that He wants to do in me.  Maybe it’s for next week and maybe it’s for decades from now.  Maybe it’s for heaven.  I will not always see His purposes, but I can trust Him just the same.

Being in His presence, digging into His Word, learning to know Him, learning about  Him, serving with Him, walking  through hard seasons and wondering i f there will ever be a harvest—none of it’s ever wasted.

This is what I see in David, this young shepherd boy who invested a whole portion of his life in shepherding a flock of animals and who ultimately because the “shepherd of my people Israel” (2 Samuel 5:2 CSB).

It wasn’t clear and it wasn’t right away.  David spent time in Saul’s palace, time in the battlefields, time hiding out in caves and time living among the Philistines surrounded by enemies of the Lord.  Maybe his past experience with sheep and a harp seemed worthless when Saul was hunting him down.

But God did the work, the long,  steady, complete work.  He chose a shepherd of  sheep to be a shepherd to His people, nothing wasted, everything working for His good purposes in His perfect timing .

I can overthink this.  I can be like  an eager student with my clipboard, my paper and my pencil quizzing my Divine Master.  “What are you trying to teach me, Lord?  What can I learn?  How are you going to use this?  What are you doing  now?   Then what’s next?”

I want purposefulness.  I want clarity. I want intentionality.

But instead I learn to rest, knowing that seasons aren’t always so well-defined.  Sometimes it snows in October and I wear short sleeves in February.  Some years I need snow boots and some years I don’t.

I don’t need to worry about identifying the season I’m in or labeling the season or determining the purpose for the season.

I can just remain teachable, yielded, open, prayerful, submissive, humble, willing, submitted ever single day. “Lord, teach me,” and let Him do it.  Let Him use all of this, every bit, to change and transform me and prepare me for His plans, His will, His timing.