Is your faith strong enough to meet your biggest fear?
We’ve all had bad dreams that were so real we had a hard time shaking them off. Mine is a recurring dream where I am being stalked by a bear. I have a bear phobia — a real one — I can’t even look at them in the zoo.** And though I love camping, I won’t go unless the site features bear-proof containers that even the biggest, hungriest bear can’t pry open or shake apart.
An equally unbreachable camper is a given.
All my bear dreams carry the same theme: the bear is going to “get me.” It’s inevitable. I’ve had a few variations of the dream: My unstoppable sister and I are trying to bear-proof an old barn at night and it gets her — the only thing standing between me and the bear; a grizzly stands suddenly in an open field where I am walking, it’s head tilted back, nose searching the air … and there is no place for me to hide. The variations of my dream are endless.
While the bear never actually “gets me” in the dream, the end is always the same: I’m trapped and helpless, with a deep growing dread of an inescapable and terrifying demise.
Today’s pandemic is like that: a really bad dream, but we don’t “wake up” from this one. The threat is very real. And we are going to need to “bear-proof” our faith to meet it.
Fear is the “bear” we all face
When we turn on the news in the morning, fear and panic reign. When we lie down for bed at night, fear holds court: What if I get sick? What if my parent gets sick? My spouse? My child? My friend? What if that person in the checkout line ahead of me was sick and I get it? What if I am stuck in my home and run out of money, food, or supplies?
As we hunker down in our homes trying to stay healthy and safe, fear streams on our phones, computers and TVs. Fear fills our minds and plays on our deepest dread that a terrible end is “inevitable.” Fear roams in an open field sniffing out our scent. It hunts us where we hide.
— stands guard over you
The name of the Lord is a fortified tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10 NIV
— covers you
He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Psalm 91:4 NLT
— rocks you in His mighty arms and sings over you, counting every hair of your head.
The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17 ESV
“But God.” The power behind that simple phrase changes everything! And it opens the door to “bear-proof” our faith.
1. We “bear-proof” our faith when we view crises through a “But God” perspective.
Your life is “bear-proof”
Did you know that nothing can “get” you?
Listen to how God describes this reassuring reality through David in Psalm 139:
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:15-16 (Emphasis mine)
Did you get that? “… all the days ordained for me …” That includes this day.
In scripture, the word “ordained” carries the overall sense of being written or engraved in an unchangeable, authoritative way because it is inscribed by God’s hand.
God crafted each chapter of our lives from a heart filled with wisdom and care. And just as His wisdom wrote our story, His sovereignty and power tell it. God is the Author of our story and no power or virus can change that.God is the Author of your story and no power or virus can change that. Click To Tweet
2. We “bear-proof” our faith when we trust God’s story for our life.
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world…having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:4,11 NIV(emphasis mine)
This does not mean we don’t take every wise precaution. We must do all we can: wash our hands, stay home to avoid infecting others, and follow our governing authority’s mandates designed to protect us. (Romans 13:3-6) Then we trust God with the rest.
A big part of fulfilling God’s plan for our lives is applying common sense. That means faithfully doing what we can and trusting God to do what we can’t.
3. We “bear-proof” our faith when we faithfully do our part and trust God to do His.
God is in control and reigns over the outcomes of your biggest fear. Because God is sovereign, you and I are immortal until God calls us home.Because God is sovereign, you are immortal until God calls you home. Click To Tweet
Almighty God holds your life and that of your loved ones in His hands. Nothing else possesses that power. Listen to how Scripture puts it:
In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind. Job 12:10
And if your story or mine includes the coronavirus, take heart! It didn’t take Him by surprise, He has already prepared for it. He will take your hand and lead you through every step of the journey. Isaiah 41:10
Now this is what the LORD says—He who created you…and He who formed you…: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you go through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, and the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:1-2
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 41:10
4. We “bear-proof” our faith when we take God at His word.
So cast off that fear and replace it with unshakeable “bear-proof” faith. (I Peter 5:7) We may not be able to escape the omnipresent pandemic filling our news feeds, but we can cast off the sense that we are helpless before a virus that’s going to “get” us.
We can honor God by trusting Him today.
The next post will provide practical “How To” helps for dealing with fear and anxiety.
**Disclaimer: I am an avid animal lover who is passionate about wildlife. That means I “love” bears, too, and support protecting them from inhumane treatment of any kind. I respect the “wildness” of bears and every other predator, I would just like to avoid cuddling them.
Prayer : I’ve personalized the key verse in this post so we can use it in our prayers.
Psalm 139:16 – Lord, I praise you for personally creating me in the secret place, when You wove me together in my mother’s womb. Your eyes saw my unformed body and You planned out the details and days of my life in your book before I was even born. I am immortal until You call me home. Thank you for the peace, security, and strength that brings to my life. Give me the courage to share this life-giving truth with someone who needs it today. Amen.
“What you need to know about the coronavirus” – CDC.gov (A downloadable fact sheet)
“What to do if you are sick” – CDC.gov (Includes a downloadable checklist)
A timely word from Francis Chan:
If you are on Facebook, here’s an inspiring reminder from AIR1′s Lauren Lee, “Fear says, ‘What if’ while faith says, ‘Even if'”
Featured image courtesy of Brian McGowan on Unsplash
This blog is a blessing. I have had such a struggle with fear since I fell and sustained a spinal cord injury. I have regained some of my abilities but am still partly paralyzed. God has taught me so much and my walk with HIM has grown so much more intimate. HE IS still good. I am a child of God. The Isaiah 41: 10 verse has been my rock . Thank you Bethany.
I’m praising God you were blessed! God is indeed good and so very faithful to uphold us with his “righteous right hand.” Thank you for your transparency about your fear. Apart from God, there are many things to fear. “But God.”
Great blog Bethany – many of my favorite verses. I am not afraid (Fear not) of what is going on in the world or the virus. I believe we are just getting set up to enter the end times. Hopefully we will be gone in the rapture before it really gets bad. Love to you and your family for whom I pray –
Thanks so much–praise God. 🙂 I love these verses, too. God’s sovereignty is always a safe harbor during troubled times. And what an opportunity to see beyond our own felt needs to offer hope to those without any!