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3 Suggestions to Help with Fear

I don’t know about you, but one thing that has been happening to me during this COVID-19 crisis is it’s bringing back a lot of memories of other times I’ve been really afraid. My mind gets fixated on some other fear from the past, and then it adds fuel to the fire of present fears and even the fearful “what ifs” of the future.

Just last night, my mind went back in time to when I was eight years old, and my family and I lived in a small town in Central Illinois. There was a bridge over a small creek that bordered our back yard, and one day I got the brilliant idea that I was going to cross the bridge not by going over it but by going under it.

I grabbed hold of the under-railing, shimmied my feet up to secure my grip, and began to inch my way across. Things were going great until I got half-way across, and, at the highest point between the bridge and the creek, you guessed it, I looked down. Fear shot through my mind and body like a caffeine rush from three cups of coffee. I knew at that moment I would never see my ninth birthday. I knew I would fall to my death, and I thought of my poor parents finding my crumpled body lying on the rocks below.

What did I do? I held on. I prayed. And I didn’t give up. Somehow, by the grace of God and maybe even a guardian angel (or two), I inched my way across the rest of the bridge to the other side.

So, why did this particular memory come to mind yesterday, when there are far-more serious fears I’ve faced in childhood and as an adult? The reason, I believe, is because I learned several lessons from that prepubescent panic that I need to bring into my present fear.

  1. Hold on. Underneath that bridge all those years ago, it was all I could do to hold on. Maybe that’s how you feel right now. I was thinking about this in my sleepless state last night (anyone else having a little hard time sleeping?), and I was reminded of the old song by Rich Mullins that says, “Well, sometimes my life just don't make sense at all. When the mountains look so big, and my faith just seems so small. So hold me Jesus, ‘cause I'm shaking like a leaf. You have been King of my Glory, won't You be my Prince of Peace?” If you find it hard to hold on, don’t worry, Jesus is holding on tight enough for both of you.
  2. Pray. When I was holding on to that rail under the bridge, you better believe I prayed. I prayed as no other eight-year-old had ever prayed. Many times I don’t feel the answers to my prayer, and sometimes I don’t always see the answers to my prayers (at least the way I want them answered), but I trust in the One in whose name I pray. Lord, I believe, but help me in my unbelief (Mark 9:24).
  3. Don’t give up. You’ve probably heard me say this before, but as I learned from my assistant several years ago (a lesson she learned from her mother), “Inch by inch, life is a cinch, yard by yard, life is hard.” Believe me, for me to get across that bridge all those years ago was inch by inch, not yard by yard. But made it, I did. And so it is with the COVID-19 Crisis. We will get through this. YOU will get through this! But more than likely it will come slowly, inch by inch. So, don’t . . . give . . . up.

Lord, “You have not given us the spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7), so help us to hold on, pray, and never give up.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

Something to Avoid and Something to Pursue Today

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, are you focusing on the foreground or the background?

There was an old, Scottish professor and preacher by the name of James S. Stewart that made the distinction between the foreground and the background of life. He used a painting as a metaphor and talked about how the foreground in the picture are the elements of life that are right in front of us. They can easily overwhelm us as they cause us significant amounts of stress.

But there is also the background of life, those things in the painting that are beyond us and sometimes go unseen. Stewart called those the invisible spiritual realities that are all around us.

Now, we need to be clear that these two things are not divided. We should never have an unbiblical divide between the sacred and the secular, the physical and the spiritual. Remember, Jesus is the eternal Word made flesh, the divine and the human in one. Just like the foreground and background are two parts of the very same painting, so the seen and the unseen, the physical and the spiritual, make up the portrait of our lives and our world. But, our trouble too often in life is all we see, all we focus on is the foreground of our immediate problems, and we’ve lost sight of the unseen divine eternal background that’s meant to put everything into proper perspective.

Our foreground right now is that the World Health Organization officially declared the Coronavirus (COVID-19) to be a pandemic. Our foreground right now is the frightening possibilities coming from the news reports that we’re hearing about every day. Our foreground right now is the virus and all the effects this still might have on our society, economy, and day-to-day living. This is the foreground. But we must remember—it’s only the foreground!

THERE IS A BACKGROUND!

There are divine spiritual realities and promises that are meant to put all of this into the right perspective. In Matthew 6:25-34 Jesus recognizes both the foreground and the background of life. He’s not dismissing the foreground of our immediate cares and needs, but he’s wanting us to see that’s not the whole picture. He wants us to see our needs in light of the colorful dynamic background of God’s Fatherly character and kingdom. And it’s in the light of that background, Jesus teaches us to do two things: The first is something to avoid; the second is something to pursue.

The first thing we’re told is, “Do not be anxious” (Matthew 6:25). The second thing we're told is, “Seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33). So, he doesn’t just give us the negative, he gives us the positive. This is always the way true Christianity works. It doesn’t just tell us to put off, it tells us to put on. It doesn’t just tell us to say no, it always gives us a bigger and better yes.

When we only focus on the foreground, we get anxious, and we fail to seek first the kingdom of God. The background is the reality of God’s presence, peace and power . . . even, and especially, in the chaos of the foreground. So, don’t be anxious, because you are seeking first God’s kingdom. That background will anchor your soul when the foreground seems unbearable.

(Adapted from a sermon by Jeremy McKeen, Lead Pastor of Truth Point Church in West Palm Beach, FL.)

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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