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Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Fear and Trust

I have watched your videos, read your emails, received your texts, talked with you, read your posts, seen your faces during Zoom calls, browsed through your social media, scrolled through your pictures and I just want you to know - you aren't alone.

I see the loneliness in parents' faces who feel utterly alone, trying to entertain toddlers and preschoolers.  I feel the pain in the words written by someone who has lost a loved one but can't be near them.  I see the sadness in the pictures of the seniors who won't get to see their friends again before graduating and who won't get to have prom or a ceremony.

I feel the frustration and the loss of what was to come - plans being canceled, trips postponed, anniversaries and birthdays spent in isolation.  It's hard.  It's hard to listen to family members far away who are struggling and you can't help.  It's hard to imagine children, youth and adults stuck in a house that is abusive.  It's hard to see the tears of a friend on Zoom when I can't take their hand and comfort them.

But most of all, I see the fear.  In your faces, in your words and in your eyes.  I feel it to.  We all do.  So much fear.

The fear of being alone - The single parent taking care of kids who has no energy or patience left to care for themselves.  The empty nester with no one around to talk to or take care of; the elderly, those in the greatest generation ever, now spending their time in a retirement home being isolated from the world.  Loneliness.

The fear of the unknown.  Will I get sick?  If I do, will I pull through?  Will my loved ones?  Will I have a job in a month?  Will I have enough money to make the next payment?  Will we get to have a summer vacation?  Will we be able to go to school in August?  The unknown.

The fear of sickness and death.  Even worse, the fear of going through sickness and death all alone.

The fear of the future - our own future, our country's future and the future of our world.

It's a fear so deep it sucks us in to the point where we can't crawl back out.  We feel paralyzed.  I read the fear in your words on social media.  I see the fear in your eyes on zoom and on video.  I hear the fear in your voice when we talk.  I see it everywhere.

Where is God?  Why is this happening? 
Fear prompts these questions.  We ask them because we don't understand what is going on and we fear the outcome.
Where are you God?  Why are you letting this happen?
Fear causes us to think and do things we normally wouldn't do - like snap at a loved one, cry over nothing, and question things we normally don't question.

God knows this fear.  God understands it.  We know this by how many times we can find do not fear in the Bible.  In the NRSV, you can read it 99 times.  

For those that fear weakness, failure and being alone...

Isaiah 41:10 says:

Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.  

For those with fear of the unknown...
read Deut 31:8:

"It is the Lord who goes before you.  He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed."  

And so many more...

No mortal person can answer those questions above - except by saying that we are not God and we can not understand God.  God is before us, God is with us and God will be after us.  All anyone can say to these questions is - Trust.  God never promises that all will be good, that our life will be perfect or that bad things won't happen.  But God does promise us that we will never be alone.  God tells us that he is always with us, that he will give us strength and that he loves us.  Trust.  

When you are in the midst of a crisis, a meltdown, or a panic attack, say that out loud.  "God, I trust you."  It's not easy.  Because it may not be true.  We may not trust God in that moment.  But say it again anyway.  

"God, I trust you."  
I trust you to love me.  I trust that you know the future.  I trust that out of evil, wonderful things can happen.  

"God, I trust you."
This will pass.  Life will be different, but that's ok.  You are with me.  Our lives may change, but You don't.

"God, I trust you."
All that fear that is causing us to lose sleep, to withdraw and close ourselves off.  We give it to you, God. 

"God, I trust you."
Do it.  Say it.  Over and over if you need to.  Give your fear to God until you trust Him to actually take it.  

Don't spend these months paralyzed by fear and grief.  God loves you and wants to take that from you - just release it, trust him fully, and He'll do it.

God bless you friends.

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