My Refuge and My Fortress
When I was child, my greatest fear was the dark. (I still don't like the dark very much.) I remember my mom quoting Scripture when I would awake terrified and shaking. I would sometimes lay in bed, the covers pulled over my head, as "What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee..." ran over and over in my head. I didn't have many other fears besides that one. Sometimes I didn't know how I would make it through another night. But I always did.
When I was a teenager, my greatest fear was losing a parent. I couldn't think of anything worse than that. Sometimes at night, instead of laying in fear of the dark, hot tears would trickle down my face as I imagined losing a parent, or worse, being an orphan. I have always had an imagination, and it wasn't hard for me to imagine something as awful as losing a parent. But I did lose a parent. And when I saw my dad slowly wither away from a horrible disease, it was hard. Some days I could barely breathe. Some days I didn't think that I would make it. When the day of his funeral finally dawned, I took a deep breath, and I got up, got dressed, and went. I survived, even though in previous years, I didn't think that I could, or would survive the death of a parent.
When I was newly married, my greatest fear was having a miscarriage. Every time I saw those two lines on a pregnancy test, I fell wildly, madly in love with that human being that was nestled deep in my womb. I would worry constantly. What if I miscarried? I didn't think that I could deal with it. And then I miscarried. I went through agonizing pain at home- alone, while my husband and three small children were at church. I bled and bled and bled, and I wept for that babe that my body expelled. When I finally cried out to the Lord that I couldn't take anymore, the pain mercifully stopped. The bleeding slowed, and the contractions ceased. It was over. I had survived. Emotionally, I had to recover, and also physically, but it wasn't as bad as I feared. I got through it the first time, and I got through it the next two times that my body rejected a baby. I made it through my greatest fear.
When I was in my 30s, one of my biggest fears was that of losing a best friend. Then one of my best friends got cancer. For three years I wept with her, laughed with her, and rejoiced with her. I then mourned with her when I realized that the chemo wasn't working, and she was about to go home to Heaven. I sat by her side when she was frail, and weak, and dying. I kissed her hand and hugged her neck and wept out to the Lord. My heart broke. I went to her funeral and hugged her kids, and wept some more. It was a long year, and I still have pain when I think about her being gone, but I survived.
Also in my 30s, one of my biggest fears was that of being talked about. I feared my reputation being slandered, and gossip going around about me and my husband. I feared losing friends. I feared our character being attacked, and lies being spewed. I feared evil people cussing at us, and despising us, and saying things that weren't true. I feared good people shaking their heads and talking about us- buying into the lies that the evil one was spreading. I feared my good name being slandered. And then it happened. The attacks came. The lies came. We lost friends. But. I survived. It wasn't nearly as bad as I had imagined. I stood firm in the truth. I know my husband, and I know myself. I know that we were living what we had been taught our entire lives. The Bible is true, and no matter what the world throws our way, we can rest assured that the Bible is always true. In a world that changes constantly, the Bible never has, and it never will. God's truths are timeless. God also sees the heart. Even though friends had deserted us, God never would. Also, even though we had lost many friends, we had gained many more. And even though the attacks came, and our name was slandered, we were also helping more people than we ever had without the attacks. The blessings far outweighed the personal attacks. I survived. It was tough; it still is tough. But it wasn't nearly as bad as I had imagined.
In all of the above scenarios, when it came down to it, what I had imagined came to pass. And it was bad. It was painful. It hurt. It still hurts sometimes. But God's grace got me through. His peace filled my heart in each and every situation. He was there, right by my side, walking me through it. I know I will face many battles in the coming years. But this I know.
God is my refuge and my fortress. Although the world may hate me, and revile and curse me, God is my refuge and fortress. Nothing happens that he does not see. He will always be the one that I run to, the one that I cry out to, and the one that sees my very heart. I trust in him and him alone. Throughout all the trials in my life, they have only served to bring me closer to him.
I don't know what your greatest fear is, because we all have different "greatest fears." I just want you to know that whatever it is, God will be with you as you face it. You will never be alone. And it's hard to understand, but his grace will cover you as you go through it.
I am sure that next year at this time, I will have another "greatest fear". And I also know that God will be right there by my side, come what may.
And for me, that is enough.