Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tackling Fear and Discouragement

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

“He said: "Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's.” (2 Chronicles 20:15)

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him.” (2 Chronicles 32:7)

The three verses above both talk about fear and discouragement. Do you ever find yourself gripped by fear or discouragement? Like the wind has been sucked out of your sails and you are stranded in the middle of a huge lake with no oars? Fear paralyzes us, blinds us to the path that God has set before us. When I am discouraged by my circumstances, I find myself fixated on my circumstances and my emotions. I want to shout out, “I’m afraid! I’m not going anywhere! I am stranded in this phase of life and YOU haven’t shown me any way out!” Our personal “vast armies” could be a dead-end job. A monotonous stay-at-home life. Unruly children. Infertility. Miscarriages. Trouble with your marriage. Difficulty finding a spouse. Feeling without purpose. Mounting stress at work or in class. A sick family member. A personal illness. Those vast armies circle, aim their arrows, and prepare to take us down.

But God makes three promises in the verses above: He is with you. It is HIS battle, not yours. He is more powerful than whatever it is you are facing. In the face of fear and discouragement, God commands us to be strong and courageous. How can we do it? “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6). One of the comforts I have rested in is that I do not need to understand the battle, I am called to trust and acknowledge God. That’s all. I’m not called to solve every problem – it is HIS battle. He will make my paths straight. I need to trust his path-paving and believe that He has a plan and purpose for me, even if it looks different than what I expected or takes a lot longer than I want to be accomplished. Jeremiah 29:11 promises that God knows the plans he has for us, plans to prosper and not harm, plans to give us a hope and a future. Our hope and our future may not look the way that we had expected. But what matters most is that He is with us. He is more powerful than what we are facing. And it is His battle.

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