Thursday, January 8, 2015

Fear and Death Have No Hold on Us

Hope for the Fearful 

June 14, 2007. It was the night before I was leaving to go to China to compete on Survivor and a heavy, terrifying and almost paralyzing wave of fear swept over me. I told my husband I had changed my mind and didn't want to go because I was afraid I would die and I didn't want my family to have to go through that pain and hurt. Rod and I prayed about me being a contestant on the show and knew God was directing our steps for me to go, but I still had incapacitating fear. My husband said something so wise: "We know the Bible says that our days are numbered, that God knows our time before we even come to be, right? Well, if it's your time, you will die no matter if you go or not. Wouldn't you rather die being obedient, than disobedient?"

I will never forget the impact that had on me. To this day, I fear less, knowing God is in control and I can trust Him. Not only does this help me fear less in my own life, but it also gives me comfort and peace to let go and trust God with the lives of those I love.
"Our times are in God’s hand; it is well they are so, for he will take care that those who are his shall die in the best time: however their death may seem to us untimely, it will be found not unseasonable." -Matthew Henry
I love this quote above because it reminds me that when we pass away unexpectedly, we can be sure it was never unexpected with God. Our days are numbered from the moment we were just a thought in God's mind. He takes us home at our best time. Psalm 139:16 says, "You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed." 

Our time to step into eternity from this temporary life is determined and set, and there is nothing we can do to make it happen sooner or later. (You might be wondering about someone who takes their own life. There's a wonderful article written from a biblical perspective here that can help you understand the complexities of this situation.) Knowing our time is set doesn't give us a ticket to be reckless, mind you. We are still told we are to take care of our bodies, as we realize that they are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We will answer to God for this one day. God expects us to be good stewards of this incredible gift! But it does mean that we cannot let fear hold us back from obedience. Every day we wake up and have breath, we can be sure there is a plan in motion for our lives. A life lived in fear is not a life fully lived!

Hope for Those Who Have Lost Someone

The Word of God can bring healing and hope to fearful heart, and also to a hurting heart. Scriptures remind us that when we lose someone unexpectedly, we can still find peace in knowing that God is in control and has a greater plan we may not see. Nothing is unexpected with God! Isaiah 57:1-2 says, "The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death."

Often, when someone we love passes away, we are left with the "what if" and the "I should have" questions. These thoughts can be paralyzing and incredibly painful.  When one of my college roommates passed away after being in an automobile accident one morning in 1988, I kept telling myself, "I should have stopped her from leaving at that moment." And "If only I had breakfast with her instead of sleeping in, she wouldn't have left at that moment and she'd still be alive." I took responsibility for something that was not my fault, and the fear and guilt was overwhelming. Honestly, it wasn't until I understood God's timing and purposes that I realized, years later, that I was not to blame. But for a long time, I was deeply troubled by these thoughts. 

We never will understand, this side of heaven, why things happen the way they do. One thing we can understand, however, is the heart of God. From His perfect perspective, He sees the bigger picture and even when we cannot understand His plan, we can understand His heart.  Whatever the purpose, we can always trust the plans of God, who is sovereign over everything. His plans are beyond our comprehension, but His love and His heart has been revealed to us through His Word and through His Son. 

I pray that if you've lost someone dear that you will find peace in knowing God loves you deeply and His heart breaks for you as you mourn the loss of someone so precious. He knows your pain and He hears your cries. He bottles your tears. His heart breaks for you in your time of heartache. It's okay to mourn, it's okay to feel the way you feel. And I pray that if fear is holding you back from living your life fully, that you can let the fear go and walk in the boldness and confidence that God has you in His arms, and He will never let you go.

Walk confidently knowing when the day comes for you to step into eternity, He knew that day was coming. He's been expecting you! The party on the other side will be beyond your comprehension.

The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. -John 10:10

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