There are so many things in this world to be afraid of: fear of car accidents, fear of pain, fear of losing people we love, fear of failure. It is so easy to get wrapped up in this fear; to let life be led by fear!
After bedtime prayers one night this week, my son stopped me and said he had something serious to talk about. I think to myself: “OK – how is he going to drag out his bed time now?!?” He told me that at school that day he and his friends in kindergarten had to practice what they would do if there was a stranger in the building. The principal would say “lock-down” on the intercom, and they would quietly go into a small closet and a friend would make sure the door was closed. He told me that he had a good hiding spot in that closet.
He told me that it was kind of fun at the time, but he understands it is important – and scary. The more we talked, the more I could see the concern in his face. It is one thing to face this reality in the daylight, alongside your friends at school. But in the quiet darkness of your bedroom at night, intense fear can creep in.
My son said that he wished there were no bad strangers. (Boy – don’t we all.) Then he wanted to talk through where we could hide if a stranger came into our house.
I listen attentively – trying to ask the right questions and encourage his response without building upon his worry. But deep down my own heart is filled with pain and fear. Our world is filled with sin, and evil lurks nearby. I cannot protect myself or my family. The fear that something so horribly evil could happen as we or our children go about our everyday lives is almost too much to bear.
Masking my own fear, I am face-to-face with a sweet little boy in his dark bedroom who is in that instant terrified of strangers, scared of the unknown and plotting his hiding places.
So I tell him that fear is normal. It is good to learn how to be safe and take precautions, but we can’t let fear control us. So acknowledge your fear, then set it aside and focus your mind on something else. Do not let fear consume you. I say these words because they are true – but this is yet another example of that motherly advice that I need to take myself. (I wrote about this last week in Prayer – special or routine?)
To try to take his mind off of the “lock-down” practice and bad strangers, we talk about some fun things coming up. I told him I’d be doing some writing later that night. What should I write about? We had a mid-week Lenten service that night, so he thought I should write about that. Then, in our own little private “God moment” in the dark, we realize that the sermon that night was just what we needed to think about. The basic synopsis – we have no need for worry, fear or sadness because God, through Jesus’ death and resurrection, has already wiped that away. With faith in Jesus, we have hope – hope that no matter what we face in this world, God will walk beside us. More than that, at the end of our time on earth, we will be met with the loving embrace of our Father in Heaven.
We cannot – we should not – hide from the world. It is guaranteed that we will encounter fear; we will face sadness and pain and evil. But our God walks beside us, provides peace and comfort, and offers hope greater than we can even begin to understand!
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5
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?
Very appropriate lyrics from this awesome song by Rend Collective Experiment, which just happened to be playing while I wrote…
I won’t fear what tomorrow brings; With each morning I’ll rise and sing.
My God’s love will lead me through; You are the peace in my troubled sea…