From the Pastors' Desks

Faith in Times of Fear

2

I read an article last week by Rick Perhai, an American missionary who had decided to remain in Ukraine despite the danger of an imminent Russian invasion. What I found particularly compelling was the idea that, when life gets scary, God’s people have a refuge the world knows nothing of – and which we ourselves only discover, in truth, when “all around our soul gives way”.

I’ve been reading through Exodus and am impressed by how often God leads His people to places of severe “risk” and apparent danger when there doesn’t seem to be any obvious reason for it. Why bring them to the edge of the Red Sea so they feel like they are doomed to die? Why bring them to the bitter waters of Marah and allow their food to run out so they are certain they will starve to death? God didn’t need to do it that way. He could have carefully explained to Moses precisely how he intended to care for Israel in the wilderness. He didn’t. He could have made sure they never had reasons for fear. But He didn’t lead them that way. Instead, he “tested them” (Ex 15:25; 16:4). He brought them to places of danger and difficulty precisely so they would be forced to rely upon Him and Him alone – and thus have the joy of seeing God deliver them in His own miraculous way. 

I live with an abiding sense that there are deep treasures of fellowship and joy in the Lord that the church in America doesn’t really understand precisely because of the abundance we enjoy. Perhai writes,

 “We Americans have little tolerance for insecurity. We can’t imagine living with so much risk.”

Here, we have the best of what the first world offers in terms of housing, food supply, medical care, etc. We have insurance policies for every potential crisis - real or imagined. I read that an insurance company in Florida sells “Alien Abduction insurance”. (You’d hate to leave your loved ones in the lurch while you’re on your way to Jupiter.)  What we lack is the experience of supernatural comfort that comes in the context of real danger – and when our only hope or help is God. What we miss is the sweet fellowship believers enjoy when God alone is their rock. Perai writes,

“Yet in the absence of comfort, safety, or even basic health insurance or life insurance, Ukrainian believers rally together in the church and support one another in times of sickness, sorrow, and death. It truly is a beautiful family.”

I’m not praying for danger or hardship. I don’t think the Bible encourages such prayers. But here are three things I think we should do.

  1. We should fight against our fearful risk-aversion by pursuing God-dependent risks for the good of others and the glory of God. That could be as small as beginning to reach out to your neighbors or as great as opening your home to fostering or adoption or moving to another country to support missionaries. Where, in your financial, social, or emotional life could you begin to intentionally take risks for the glory of God? Ask the Lord to lead you in this path of righteousness.
  2. Intentionally bond with other believers, around the Word of God, and in joint ministry, preparing for the days when danger will be a reality of our life. Small groups would be a great place to forge the bonds that make a “beautiful family” in the midst of hardship.
  3. In your devotions, work to develop a knowledge of God that produces the “fear” that destroys fear. See Michael Reeves article below for an excellent explanation of this.

 

In His Service,

Pastor Dale

What Pastor Dale is reading . . .

The Ominous Threat Surrounding Missionaries in Ukraine
by Rick Perhai

Let Tragedy Find Us Living
by Greg Morse

The Fear of God Is the Antidote to Our Anxiety
by Michael Reeves

2 Comments

Dean, I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful Marlene. C.S. Lewis, on losing his wife, said that he never realized before that grief felt so much like fear. It's an undoing of our world. But God promises to hold us fast. I'm preaching Sunday night on Isaiah 43:1-7. There's great comfort there. Praying that the Father of all comfort, comforts you in this valley of devastating loss.
In the past 8 months I have become so Desperate my only hope is reaching out to God. I lost my wife 8 months ago to cancer and I am so broken my only hope is in God.

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