Category Archives: Fear

Romans: Our Daddy

Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

What is the greatest news you’ve ever been given?  Think really hard about it and give an honest answer to that question.  Now think about why it is that this was such great news.  Now, turn your attention for one moment to news that’s even better than the best news you can think of.

Because God loved the world He had created, He sent Jesus Christ (God in the flesh) to live a perfect, sinless life and to die a sinner’s death in our place.  We deserved to be treated with the cruelty He receive.  We earned the penalty that He paid.  He took on our sin and gave us instead His own righteousness, granting us access to God.  What news is this!

Not only are we forgiven by a just God, which is wonderful, but we are now His own children, adopted into His family.  Not only is He our Father, but the language used in this text is so intensely beautiful as the writer describes God as our “Abba,” which means “daddy.” God isn’t a harsh, demanding father who is waiting for us to mess up so He can punish us.  We’re not under Him as slaves, but as His children.  He’s our Daddy who loves us and cares about us.  We can approach Him without fearing His response.  What a perfect way to understand our relationship to our Creator and Redeemer.

That Feeling of Being a Failure

It’s hard, at times, not to feel a bit like a failure, isn’t it? Sometimes we know exactly where these feelings coming from, we tried something and it didn’t work or something in our lives just isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. It’s a lot easier in those moments because we know what the problem is, and, even if we don’t necessarily know how to fix it, we can pinpoint it, we can put our finger on it and we can try to figure out how to make that change, even if we know it’s going to be slow going.

The real challenge is when we feel like that failure and we don’t necessarily know where it comes from. It’s when this darkness seems to just twist and turn around us, and we can’t quite manage to put our finger on what it is or why it’s there. It could be a combination any number of things and yet nothing at the same time, just this lingering feeling that something isn’t right, and you’re the one to blame.

Have you ever felt that way? Looking around, kind of questioning what’s wrong with your life as you know it’s something but you can’t quite put your finger on it. Slowly you start to feel overwhelmed and overshadowed until finally it becomes this inescapable feeling that dominates so many of your thoughts as you wonder what you’re even doing, trying to define your life, trying to figure it all out, but not entirely sure where to go or where to start.

In a sense there is no simple answer to this question, except life itself.

You see, by its very nature, life and living is an act of faith. It is an understanding that it is going to be wrought with challenges and adversity, with struggles and things that we just don’t seem to understand. Yet it is also a question of living for the moments of joy and peace, knowing that whatever darkness may surround us, they do come and they wrap around us in ways that bring to us a hope that we can feel devoid of in our lives at times. Perhaps we don’t even realize we are living in that faith, but, by living and breathing, by taking those steps forward we are seeking out the answers that we need to find our place.

The beauty of it though is that it is nothing that we have to go through alone. To live in faith is never to walk a solitary or lonely path. It is to have a constant companion with you, a confidant who doesn’t only know every unspoken place within you, but who doesn’t need for you to say it to see it. As our blessed Savior, Christ Jesus, reminds us, even when we feel the most alone, we never are because God, our Heavenly Father, is there to carry us through the most difficult of chapters and the most trying of times. (John 16:32-33) In this love, and commitment to us, He never fails us or forsakes us. (Joshua 1:5)

Yes, there are perhaps going to be times in our lives when it feels like the world, when it feels like our world, is just nothing that we quite understand, and we feel like a failure in it, unable to necessarily do anything right. Yet that’s never just the end of the story for us. There is a plan for our lives, one that has been set out from the day in which we were conceive, appointed by the Great Architect and the Grand Designer of the Universe (Jeremiah 1:5), the Creator who has made all things small and large, who takes not only an active interest in your life, but whose hand guides it.

For whatever other struggles we may know, for whatever failures we may think have taken hold of our lives, that is nothing more than the beginning of the story, a story of self-discover and self-awareness that shows us our true worth and value beyond anything we ever quite knew. It just has to come with the understanding that though God answers all questions for us, giving to us freely of His knowledge, (James 1:5) not all answers we feel we need are the ones that we need right at that moment. It’s a matter of relying on His understanding, His timing, more than our own, knowing that it will come. (Habakkuk 2:3) Revealing itself in its own time, in His time, it comes when we need it most.

Failure, for however it might feel, for whatever challenges it may bring, or wherever it may come from, is nothing more than a path towards a greater end if we let it be. Yes, perhaps we don’t necessarily even know why we feel like a failure, but then, whatever those feelings are, or wherever they come from, they need not weaken you if you understand they are not meant to drag you down, but rather push you forward. The struggles that it brings, it is meant to teach us more about ourselves, about who we are and what we want, about the intrinsic value of success that could and would otherwise be lost on us.

We are defined by what we let define us. We can define ourselves by what truly matters if we look at each day of our lives as a deeper journey into our faith, and understand that these feelings, they are not defining feelings, but tools to help us build the path, to lay the brick work that will lead us down the road of our greatest possible success, a success that our Heavenly Father wants for us to have in our lives.

The joy of pain

James 1:2-4  Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

 Sometimes the best thing that can happen to you is a tragedy.  Sometimes the thing that puts you on the path you need to be on is pain and suffering.  No one wants to face those things, but in reality they point us to God.

When things are going perfectly, we often have a tendency to overlook God’s role in the blessings we’re enjoying.  Maybe every now and then we give thanks, but when it’s smooth sailing there is little time really spent calling out to God.

But when the going gets tough, it’s time to hit our knees.  We cry out to God and beg Him to get us through this painful circumstance.  We talk to Him more, trust in Him more, exercise greater faith, and grow more spiritually than we ever do during the good times.

It’s often said that if there’s no pain there’s no gain, but we seem to think this doesn’t apply to spiritual matters.  The truth is, pain produces growth spiritually, and it perfects us a little bit at a time as we grow closer to God in the midst of our trials.  So next time you’re going through a rough patch, give thanks to God for the opportunity to become more like His Son.  Rely on Him to get you through to the end.

Count it all joy

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:2-4, 12 ESV)

This verse can be hard to swallow, but recently, I’ve been able to embrace it in ways that I haven’t before. Trials are just easier when the presence of God is evident. Everything has purpose and meaning, and we don’t have to understand it. Knowing that our purpose is unfolding daily with God in the captain’s seat, and knowing that trials don’t define our day, but are just a part of them, really puts this in perspective.

Quite simply, the presence of God when trouble appears, is better than a day without God. What a beautiful promise that God makes following trials.

Perfect love drives out fear

Anxiety is so commonplace in our fast paced world that there are entire industries in place to alleviate it.  Anxiety, insecurity and fears can be absolutely crippling. As a parent, I am constantly battling anxieties in all forms: Fear of not being the best parent I can be for my children, anxiety about providing for my family, insecurities when I compare myself to others. This is not the way God intended us to think or live.  2 Corinthians 3:17 says that where the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. God has finished his perfect work on the cross, so it is not a process. As Christians we can live in the freedom of Christ now.

 

1 John 4:18 says that There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear[a]involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

 

How do we abide in the freeing spirit of God or in his perfect love? I believe that the first step is consciousness. We need to be conscious of the fact that God will come through for us. We need to consciously remind ourselves that God is good and our provider and that there is nothing to fear because he watches over us and loves us.

We can remain conscious of his love for us by daily reading the word of God and filling our days with prayer and thankfulness.  We can memorize scripture that affirms the fact that God will never leave nor forsake you.

 

Hebrews 13:5-6

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”

So we say with confidence,

“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?”[b]

 

How beautiful the love of our Father is, He has promised to never leave or forsake us and as a response we are to say that we will not be afraid. He has given the Holy Spirit to us to comfort us and we are to allow him to remind us of and encourage us with the words of God (John 14:26.)

 

John 14:27

New International Version (NIV)

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

 

Dear God, help us to abide in your love and not worry or be afraid. Guide us in contentment and thankfulness so that our eyes will be open to your hand in our life. Let us be diligent in reading your word and communing with you so that we may walk in the light and be free from anxiety. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Jesus up there

Tonight, as I laid with my son in bed, he pointed to the ceiling and said what sounded like, “Cheese-It’s up there”. As I tried to decipher what he was attempting to communicate, I realized that he was saying, “Jesus up there”.

 

Over the last four months, this poor sweet boy has been riddled with new fears. He is afraid of the dark, afraid of being left, afraid of dogs, and especially afraid of monsters.

 

As we were driving in the car several weeks ago, my two year old asked repeatedly for the light to be turned on. When his dad declined, he warned us enthusiastically, “Monsters in there!”. He did the same a few days later when I covered him in the bed.

 

John 14:19

Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.

 

Tonight, my two year old boy pointed to the ceiling and said, “Jesus up there”.

 

And He is. I had forgotten in that moment. Thank you so much for the reminder, sweet boy.

 

And then he said, “Jesus up there. I was crying for him”.

 

Psalm 34:17

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.

 

You’re on the right track, buddy.

 

Matthew 19:14

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

 

I am humbled, by this sweet boy.

 

With this, and for him, I have another verse.

Romans 8:28

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whohave been called according to his purpose.

 

God works for the good on the days that are bad, and the days that are good.

 

He works for the good when you feel invisible and when your heart is broken. When you are sick and when tomorrow is scary.

 

God works for good when you are tired, when you are hurt, and when you are certain that you are to blame and are alone.