Joy, my daughter, was a senior in college, and was leaving the next day for a semester of study in Oxford, England. Yet, the day we were packing, the second American journalist had his head cut off by ISIS displayed everywhere on international media. Friends sent messages and news stories with photos to Joy, wondering if she had seen the news...
News storms the sensibilities of our hearts daily. A man burned alive in front of the cameras.
Coptic Christians having their heads chopped off, ready for all of us to see on facebook and publicized everywhere on the news.
Fragile young girls being trafficked and forced to prostitution.
The economy falling apart. Immorality declining at an alarming rate. Wars, earthquakes, diseases, all a common part of our daily news.
What is happening in our world? What is our future? How can we make this a secure place for our children and promise them a future with hope.
It is a natural response to be afraid, to be angry, to feel abused or downcast. There is nothing wrong about feeling fearful. Emotions are neutral. Emotions are a part of the make up of the body that God gave to us to respond to life.
Somehow it comforted me to realize that when Jesus was tortured and crucified, Hebrews tells us, "He despised the shame." (Hebrews 12:2)
He was the one who cried at the death of Lazurus. He understands our grief and our fear.
But it is what we do with these emotions that will determine if we become victims or victors in the circumstances of our lives.
Fear not or do not be afraid is used around 110 times in scripture. Why? Because God knew that we would be tempted to be afraid often in our lives and that the darkness of this world would threaten our inner peace and security.
We know that Satan, knowing his time is short, is throwing out his wrath.
Yet, Jesus told us that in this world, we would have tribulation. He left no doubt about what challenges our lives would hold.
He who faced crucifixion, a brutal killing from his enemies, has never asked us to live in faith in a way that he has not already faced.--And yet he encouraged us to "Take courage!" As He took courage and went to the cross amidst the greatest evil.
Embrace courage, sow courage, live by faith into the courage the Holy Spirit provides.
What if we are getting closer to the end of the world, a time when we know that all evil and wickedness will be at its pinnacle?
What if God chose for you to be born in this time, because He thought you worthy to stand strong for Him in one of the most difficult times in history? What if you were called to be a brave and courageous testimony to your children of how to live generously, faithfully, boldly in hard times, so that they would have the courage to live boldly in their lifetime?
What if this is the time given to you to exercise your faith so that He might be glorified in your world, through your faithfulness, in your lifetime?
Each of us is given one day at a time to be faithful--that is this day. It is time to put away pettiness, selfishness, mediocrity, conformity. This day is the day you have been given to love generously, to live joyfully, to bring light into darkness, to forgive generously, to show compassion and a servant heart. There is no better time than now.
My own precious Joy had to face her own fears before she went to England in the fall. And now circumstances are even worse.
But these stressful moments when we are with our children, become the training grounds for them to grow strong in spiritual muscle and personal faith.
The times we whisper the reality of God into their fears, into their challenges and tell them they are chosen by God to live in this time--that they are called to be His witness, because He has trusted them with "these times."
I wrote about this story in Own Your Life because it was occurring as I finished my book. I had a test before me with my sweet daughter, of my own philosophy that I had been writing about--and how I would live into it.
As she prepared to go to Oxford to be a student, the day before she was to leave, the first British person was threatened to be murdered in front of television cameras. Her friends suggested surely England would go to war while she was there,. "Do you really think you should go to the UK right now? What if they wage war? What if you are separated from your family in another world war?"
My final words to her, as we nestled together in the chill mountain air on our lawn, looking up at the stars were,
"The God who holds the stars, holds you." (You may read the rest of my story with Joy, as I am sharing at Proverbs 31, where I wrote about this today. Tyndale is giving away 10 copies of Own Your Life on Proverbs 31.)
But, what about you?
Do you know that God is supreme, sovereign above all wickedness and He never loses control?
He is the light over all the universe. Psalm 139 tells us, even the darkness is not dark to Him.
He knew all of our days, when there was not one of them--and He planned to be with us each day, to strengthen us, to guide us, to help us live faithfully in hard times. Those who have lost their lives for their testimony of faithfulness have entered into God's presence and they have finished their course and now are at peace.
May our precious Lord give each of us strength, faithfulness, wisdom and love with the courage to live our lives well, because we have this day to live for His glory.
I would love to know what you do to strengthen yourself in the Lord, and how you keep your heart centered. I would love to pray for you in your struggles. I did pray for each of you tonight, that you would know how precious your heart is to God--whatever your fears, whatever your pain. He is with you.