Fear was one of my strongest emotions after losing my daughter Naomi at 18 weeks gestation. Even as a young child, I had feared losing someone close to me. Now, as an adult, the worst had happened. My body had failed me, my baby had died, and no one had been able to stop it. What terrible thing would happen next? Over the next several months, I became hyper-vigilant, checking on our one-year-old daughter several times a night ("Is she still breathing?"), waiting nervously for my husband to get home from work ("What if he got in an accident?"). It was as if I thought my worrying could keep my loved ones safe.
One day in my Bible reading I came across Psalm 46 and was struck by the psalmist's declaration of "no fear" even in the midst of a great natural disaster. He describes the earth giving way and mountains disappearing into the heart of a roaring, surging ocean - who wouldn't fear? And yet, he declares, "We will not fear." How could he live that way, I wondered, when no happy ending was guaranteed?
The answer, I saw in the Psalm, is that we can live without fear not because God promises a happy ending on earth, but because of who He is. He is our refuge when we need protection ("God, protect my family members!"), our strength when we are weak ("God, I can't make it another day!"), our ever-present help in trouble. I love that last description especially. He is not far off, we don't have to call 9-1-1 and wait for help to arrive. He's ever-present, always with us. And someday, the psalmist assures us, wars will cease. God will be exalted over the nations, and in the earth.
Our response in the meantime is to "cease", to "be still" - cease striving, stop trusting in my ability to protect my loved ones by the sheer force of my love and anxiety. Instead, lean on God, and trust in His power and love, and let Him be our stronghold, a place to hide when the waters threaten to drown us, not only physically, but spiritually, too.
There are still plenty of days I battle my old enemy, fear, but for the most part I, too, can say, "I will not fear, though my body fails me, and my babies wait for me in heaven, though I don't know what the future holds...the LORD of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our stronghold."
Has your loss led to a battle with fear? How have you dealt with this? Leave a comment and share your journey.