Friday, June 28, 2013

"Dread? Joy!"

      What do we do with dread? (which, in practical terms, simply means fear of the future).

     I've recently had opportunity to discover in greater measure the Lord's way in such challenge.  During our plumbing project of the last few weeks, our plumber Tony has often said to me, "Mr. Davis, I need to show you something."  Gulp!  This rarely means good news (although Tony is such a gracious, soft-spoken gentleman that his demeanor does seem to soften the blow a bit).  No, it hasn't happened yet that he's said, "Mr. Davis, I've opened up this wall, or that pipe, and discovered that everything's in mint condition!  You won't be needing anything here!"  No, it's more like the news of five minutes ago.  "Mr. Davis, this is what fifty years will do for you" (you don't need to know the details, but thankfully, this one was not an expensive issue).  So, Tony's "I need to show you something" does offer a bit of unintended temptation, along with the opportunity to learn a bit better about how to deal with the aforementioned dread.

    I've believed for a long time that every feeling or sensation of fear provides actually provides opportunity for joy.  Indeed, recall that our Lord promises to work "all things together for good" in the lives of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).  Thus, when trouble arrives at our doorstep, the truth of the matter is that God arrives with it (actually, before it).  "All" means all, and no pain, loss, sorrow and difficulty can begin to compare with our Lord's capacity to weave His good into everything that will ever happen in our lives. Everything.  The cross of our Lord Jesus bears witness to such blessed truth, whereupon the worst thing that ever happened became for trusting hearts the best thing that ever happened.  "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself" (II Corinthians 5:19).

    Approaching trouble will inevitably elicit in us the human emotional and even physical responses of feeling afraid.  Moreover, our minds may quickly join the battle as we ponder troubling possibilities.  However, we do not have to allow reactions of fear to become strongholds of dread.  King David helps us in this matter.  "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee" (Psalm 56:3).  When tempted to fear, be it minor insecurities, seemingly overwhelming portents of tragedy, or all challenges in between, there is something we can do, something we must do.  We must trust.  We must depend (on the Lord).  We must remember (His truth).  And we must believe.  A reasoned, deliberate choice presents itself to our hearts, an "I will" such as David affirmed.  Regardless of emotion, physical sensation, or swirling thoughts and notions, we must determine that God's truth will be our truth.  Such faith makes possible peace in our hearts, and also joy, as confirmed by the Apostle Paul's mandate, "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice" (Philippians 4:4).  Indeed, Paul could not command us to rejoice in all if it were not possible that we do so.

    Here's the basis of such joy.  If trouble, of whatever kind, is actually God's opportunity to show Himself wise, strong, able and present on our behalf, then His determination or allowance of it actually comes with wondrous possibility.  "What will the Lord be and do for His glory and our benefit in this challenge?"  This must serve as the governing truth whereby our initial reactions of dread are overcome.  Again, the worst thing, the cross, became for us the best thing, eternal redemption.  All other challenges pale in comparison.  I think of this during our relatively minor challenge of plumbing matters, and I've learned much that I hope will abide for a lifetime wherein I recall that temptations to dread actually offer opportunities for joy.

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof."
(Psalm 46:1-3)

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