By Liza Kittle
“I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears…This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles.”
As I write these words, my 18-year-old daughter Frances is walking to her first college class at the University of Georgia. I know she is filled with fear and anxiety, even though my husband and I have encouraged her repeatedly that she will do great. My 22-year-old daughter Caroline is busily preparing for her senior exit show at the Savannah College of Art and Design, the climax of her college experience. I know she is anxious about the exhibit and filled with fear about her future as she takes the next step into adulthood.
A close friend, only forty-six years old, with a loving family and three beautiful sons, is fighting the battle of her life with stage IV colon cancer. I know she has fears about the future, even though she is praying and trusting Jesus for complete healing. Another childhood friend has just learned she has cancer in her trachea, liver, and brain. She fears the months ahead not knowing who will provide and care for her husband, who struggles with health issues due to a heart transplant.
A dear pastor I know, who preaches the gospel with passion and faithfulness, has been relieved of his pastoral duties by a bishop and small group of disgruntled church members. An abrupt change in a job or ministry surely involves fears and trepidation. Another pastor friend in Uganda faces daily challenges from financial hardships, persecution, and societal corruption—causing anxiety and fear.
All human beings will undoubtedly face the gripping fear that hardships and troubles inevitably bring and Christians are not immune to this reality. The beauty of being a Christian, however, is that we have been given resources to face any fear or circumstance. We have Jesus.
The psalmist in the above passage doesn’t ask the Lord to take his fear away. He cries out and seeks the Lord’s face, enabling Jesus to break the grip these fears have on him. Jesus doesn’t always save us from the storms in our lives, but he does desire to save us in the midst of our troubles. It is in the dark and painful places that Jesus is waiting to be our protector, provider, and deliverer—if we earnestly seek his face. When we have Jesus to cling to, our fears can turn to thanksgiving and praise as we experience the overwhelming peace that only Jesus can bring.
In the scenarios described above, what will happen in each individual circumstance isn’t yet known. But whether the person involved has a relationship with Jesus Christ will determine how their journey will proceed. The presence of Jesus in a person’s life can insure a miraculous victory over fear.
The available resources described in Psalm 34 include: the angel of God surrounds and delivers those who revere God (v.7); the favor of God falls on those who cry out and seek his face (v.4); those who look to the Lord are radiant and their faces are never covered with shame (v.5); the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (v. 18); the Lord redeems his servants and no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him (v. 22).
The scriptural promises of Psalm 34 were recently played out in a miraculous way in the life of Paul Mabonga, the Ugandan pastor described above. In 2008, his nine-year-old niece, Jackline, disappeared from the home of a friend in a neighboring village. After exhaustive attempts to locate her, the family began to fear the worst. Every year in Uganda, children are kidnapped by human traffickers and witch doctors who steal children for brutal sacrifice rituals. Throughout their lengthy ordeal, Paul and his family faithfully clung to Jesus, crying out to God and trusting in his promises.
In August 2010, the police in a distant city contacted Paul with the miraculous news that Jackline had been found! She had been cared for by a foster family while police had searched for her family. While the circumstances of her ordeal are still being investigated, Jackline, now eleven years old, was reunited with her family—a homecoming filled with tears of joy and thanksgiving. It was only by their unrelenting trust and dependence on Jesus and the promises of God were their fears turned into a miracle.
Are hardships and troubles overtaking your life? Is anxiety and fear immobilizing your daily living? God has provided resources to deliver you from this bondage. Renew is here to provide encouragement, prayer, and support in the midst of your circumstances. Let us know how we can be of service to you in ministry. With Jesus, any fear can be conquered.
Liza Kittle is the President of the Renew Network (www.renewnetwork.org), P.O. Box 16055, Augusta, GA 30919; telephone: 706-364-0166.