Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Reflections on Fear

The worst part of a deployment is the fear. I didn’t expect to feel it so deeply.  Going days or weeks without hearing his voice, biting my nails to the quick waiting for a few words in an email saying he was safe… Some nights I would just lay awake, filled with a desperate fear of losing my love. Thoughts of him being fatally wounded during the course of travel or his duties plagued my mind, and I would cry myself to sleep, begging the Lord to protect this man He’d blessed me with.  During these times, it’s hard to see beyond the fear; no matter how many times my husband reassured me that he would be safe and return home to me, the fear only subsided when I finally heard his voice or read his words.
It’s funny how a person changes with marriage. When I was single, I’d experienced sadness, some loneliness, frustration and anxiety, and the Word of the Lord always brought sufficient peace; until marriage, I’d never felt such a penetrating, paralyzing fear as I have throughout this deployment. And with such a deep fear, it took more effort for the Word to bring the same peace. More time, more pleas for rest and peace, and learning how to be more honest with myself and the Lord about my real feelings.
I’ve appreciated the Psalms during this deployment. If any a Christian ever believed that fear or anger or depression weren’t emotions God was interested in, I’d recommend spending some quality time with the Psalmists. Their prayers are filled with the same sense of loneliness, longing, desperation and grief we have all experienced at one point or another. Why not be as real with the Lord in your prayers as they were in theirs? It’s when I started praying with such raw feeling that the fear started to subside. The fear is real, but so is the presence of God.
Here are some of the Psalms that carried me through the darkest hours…

Psalm 27:1 – “The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?”

Psalm 91: 1-6, 9-12, 14-16 – “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.” Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday… If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him, I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

Psalm 142:3 – “When my Spirit grows faint within me, it is you who knows my way.”

Psalm 27:13-14 – “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD.”

Psalm 6 – “O LORD, don’t rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your rage. Have compassion on me, LORD, for I am weak. Heal me, LORD, for my bones are in agony. I am sick at heart. How long, O LORD, until you restore me? Return, O LORD, and rescue me. Save me because of your unfailing love. For the dead do not remember you. Who can praise you from the grave? I am worn out from sobbing. All night I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears. My vision is blurred by grief; my eyes are worn out because of all my enemies. Go away, all you who do evil, for the LORD has heard my weeping. The LORD has heard my plea; the LORD will answer my prayer.”

As this deployment comes to a close, I can’t say that I’m fearless. I can say that I have experienced greater comfort and peace from the Lord than in any other time of my life, and I’m forever grateful for that. Peter tells us that we, as the chosen, will be distressed by necessary and various trials, “so that the proof of your faith… may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7). When I’m not in the midst of the fear, I can know that there is an eternal purpose in my suffering, and be hopeful that my responses bring honor to my God.