Fear, Power and Suffering

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Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash

My mom had my brothers and me memorize 2 Timothy 1.7 years ago.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

That’s a different translation then the one I memorized it, or the NIV made some changes to the Greek in later translations. I actually really like the translation above. It’s straight forward. I didn’t look it up in the Greek text, but feel free to do so if you’re so inclined.

Timidity as you know is another word for fear. There’s not a one of us who hasn’t felt fear. Feeling fear is not wrong. Jesus felt fear. Giving into what fear can make you do can become sin. I’m guilty of that, but I’ve been forgiven for it. I’ll be forgiven for it the rest of my days, but I long for the days when fear will not grip us.

Power, love and self-discipline are certainly polar opposites to timidity. I like it when the positives outweigh the negatives. Jesus was not a killjoy, and he never acted as the “church lady” in a Greek drama. He told stories of redemption in relationship to God and people. Fear does not bring redemption, so whenever I am able to face the ugly monster of fear in the face I do not back down, and that usually happens silently when I’m alone.

I’ve lived in Nashville a long time now. Fear is constantly rearing it’s ugly head in my life because I fixate on the burned bridges I’ve created in this city. I use to think I wasn’t taught how to negotiate conflict because of all the places I grew up, but I recently learned that even those who stay in the same place their entire lives burn bridges.

Depression grew out of a deep seated attack of fear, and it evolved into unbridled anger. Those three things are a recipe for disaster, but for the grace of God I continue. Inward direction is hard when you battle fear because it makes you think the solution is outward. It’s not.

You won’t find the answer in a blog post either. My friend Caralyn knows the power of the inward journey in how in effects your outward journey. She writes candidly at Beauty Beyond Bones about the inward turmoil she anguished over as her outward self became more “beautiful.” Those of us who fight mental illness know it’s an inside job. We get distracted by the talking heads that are incessant, and not only do they distract us, but they evangelize us to the point of discipleship. That’s a dangerous place to be, and now I turn to the use the word respect. We must respect/fear the evil forces that seek to undo us because they are relentless. They don’t have to sleep or eat like we do, but they aren’t all knowing like the Spirit talked about in the verse above. Prayer is powerful not because we do it, but because of the One it’s connected to.

Please come to Nashville Caralyn, and you can see my friend Rob’s Wishing Wells at his Well Coffeehouses all over town. People post needs on these boards in the Wells, and when someone feels called to act upon a request they do. No doubt NYC and Cincinnati have similar things, but my point being is that prayer is underestimated. We must pray.

Conversation and blogging is prayer, and as I read Caralyn’s latest post I felt the healing that is happening in Cincinnati. Our God is producing a revival in our cities, and they are fueled by the Father through prayer. Keep praying. It’s a cognizant confession that God is here, He is present, and even if the answer isn’t the answer we wanted we must trust that He sees things we don’t. And also if we are mad that He said wait or no to our request it is perfectly fine to express that anger to Him. He has a broad chest on which to beat. When my daughter expresses outright rage at me I am moved to tears, and all I want to do is hold her near me. Think about how much more that is true with the perfect Father who longs for our devotion. It brings tears to my eyes thinking about it.

This world is painful. It’s filled with fear. One little New Testament verse isn’t going to take it away, but that’s not the point. The point is that crying out to our Father in our pain and suffering is what gives us the power, love and self-discipline not to self-destruct.

And before you write someone off because of their “sin” stop for a moment and ask yourself silently what they are going through, and if you have the presence of mind to do so ask God to put angels around them as they breath the breath of Heaven upon them.

Father, our sufferings bring us closer to you more than anything else. We do not enjoy the suffering we go through, but if that’s what it takes to feel your presence than so be it. Empower us in our battles with fear to trust that you indeed want us not to fear, and you know too well what we are up against. You’ve been where we are. You know the distractions, walls and rock bottoms we find ourselves. Empower us to change from the inside out. Bring us into contact with the people we need to be with. Place our eyes on the blogs you want us to read, and put the books we need to read in our hands. In Jesus name amen.

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