Friday, August 24, 2012

I'm afraid of the response of another

“You have no idea what I went through! Don’t even pretend you do.”

The phrase echoed the halls and brought silence down on everyone’s head. Who can say anything after that? I had merely meant to offer condolences, a little comfort that she wasn’t alone, and a hand to hold. It didn’t come across that way, apparently. Whether the pain was too fresh, or she was holding onto it too tightly I could not tell you. It simply came down to she did not want nor accept my attempt to comfort her.

While she apologized in private later, the effect of what she said originally was devastating. We never spoke again about the matter. Our relationship cracked and eventually crumbled for a variety of reasons. And I learned to be very careful how I offer comfort to someone who is hurting.

This was probably a good lesson to learn, however I took it to the extreme. I learned to stay quiet, or to make disclaimers. I don’t know if those worked to show my heart or my fear, but I’m afraid I know. I allowed the fear of offending someone keep me from even trying to comfort anyone.

This is not an unusual pattern in my life, I’m sad to say. Too often when something happens I expect it to happen again. I assume the problem is only something to do with me. Someone tells me they don’t have time to lunch with me, I assume no one does. Someone thinks I’m not good enough to hang out with, I assume everyone does. Or, I should say assumed. These are lies I have been facing and breaking down.

The truth is there will be people we offend. There will be people who don’t have time for us. There will always be someone who looks for our failures. For some people no one can do anything right. That’s the way of life. But if we stop reaching out to each other, who will be there to comfort as they have been comforted? If we allow fear to shut us down, how will God use us to show His love?

Yes, it’s still scary for me when I step outside of my comfort zone. What I am learning is my boundaries ebb and flow with different people, and that’s as it should be. Above all I need to keep working to act out of love rather than fear. Things may not always go as smoothly as I want, but I can at least know I’m trying.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The fear of community

2 Chronicles 20:15-17
‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army.
For the battle is not yours, but Gods…
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’

As I read these verses, and became familiar with the story, I panicked a little. Much like I did when he covered Joshua for the third time, I thought to myself, “What is new here?”

God reassured Jehoshaphat that He saw the king and the crisis much like he told Hagar He saw her. The prophet God used to speak to the people was Jahaziel whose name means “God will see.”

Much like Hezekiah God let Jehoshaphat know He heard his prayers and knew what was going on. Also much like Hezekiah Jehoshaphat went first to God rather than panic or consult his generals.

Just as God told Gideon this fight was not fought by the power of the people, God did the fighting for Jehoshaphat in a miraculous way.

I looked for a new angle, a new understanding, or a fresh perspective. Taking the time and discussing it with the Holy Spirit I realized I was seeing exactly what I was meant to see. There were similarities. Yet differences remained as well.

The similarities reminded me we often feel isolated in our troubles. We feel as if no one truly can understand or grasp what is going on, or where our fear is coming from. The reality is while the details may be different, the core is the same. This is where we find similarities within each other. This is how we can comfort one another, or seek wisdom from one another. Instead of isolation we seek community and that which felt so overwhelming is suddenly handled from a variety of directions.

The difference I saw was God telling them they wouldn’t have to fight, yet sent them out to face their enemy all the same. Jehoshaphat, after consulting with his people, chose to head out praising and worshipping the name of God. They were not silent in their going, and this thrilled me. How often does fear shut us right down? The details were unknown as to how God would do what He proclaimed. Jehoshaphat simply trusted God’s word to be Truth. This made all the difference for how they went out to meet the enemy.

Question 1: God made us for community, yet I know I for one often live more like a hermit. This often allows our fears to grow out of proportion, and our hearts to feel hopeless. When was the last time you took a fear to someone you trusted? When was the last time you were someone who another could bring their fear to?

Question 2: Do you have to have proof before you can act on something God tells you to be true? While God understands our temperaments better than we do, maybe it’s time to walk out in praise while we wait for God’s word to be fulfilled.

Dear heavenly Father,
Thank you for your understanding and your solace
Thank you for guiding us on the best path for our feet
Thank you for reaching our hearts in ways You know best
Thank you for giving us grace and mercy when we doubt
Oh Lord help us learn to rely on each other
And most of all You
 
 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Jehoshaphat's fear

Three armies have decided to make war against Jehoshaphat who is the king of Judah. His reign begins in 2 Chronicles 17 and it is said, “he walked in the ways his father David had followed.” In Chapter 20 we see his response to the enemies attack.


His heart was alarmed at the news of what was on the outskirts of his country; three armies waiting to take his land. The Lord’s land. Jehoshaphat knew he must go to the Lord. He knew he must take his crisis to the only one who could take care of it. After praying and fasting singularly he went to the temple to pray with the people.

[Jahaziel] said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat, and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem. This is what the Lord says to you:

Jehoshaphat thought, “How good of the Lord to remind us that He sees us. Not only did He give us an answer here with all the people present, but He did so through Jahaziel.”

‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.

Jehoshaphat was relieved. He knew his man power was not greater than the three armies massed together. He waited expectantly to find out what God would do.

Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel.

Jehoshaphat sat stunned. If this was God’s battle, why was God calling him to gather his forces? Why was God telling him where to march against them? Fear had brought Jehoshaphat to God for an answer. He was now scared that fear would chase him running.

You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, oh Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Jehoshaphat knew there was only one way for him to respond if the people were to agree. Even though Jehoshaphat didn’t understand how things would occur, he did know well enough to trust God. This was what he wanted the people to see and know. He knew they had to rely on each other, obey what God was saying together, and then somehow things would work accordingly.

Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’”

After hearing the message, Jehoshaphat worshipped God with his people. Early the next morning they followed the course God prescribed led by praise and worship to the Lord Most High.


2 Chronicles 20:15-17

He said: "Listen, King Jehoshaphat This is what the Lord says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's. Tomorrow march down agasint them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Oh Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. God out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.'"

Jehoshaphat "Yahweh has judged."
Jahaziel "God will see."
Ziz "ascent where the flowers grow"
Jeruel "God is a foundation"

climbing - in Hebrew ala - to go up, ascend, rise; to be lifted up, withdraw, be exalted; to take up, set up, offer a sacrifice; to be offered up, be carried away, be recorded; to raise oneself up; from the base meaning of rise in elevation comes the fig. extension "to exalt, honor" as the lifting up of a person in status.

deliverance - in Hebrew ysua - salvation, deliverance, help, rescure from a dangerous circumstance or harmful state by a savior; divine salvation usually had its focus on rescue from earthly enemies, occasionally referring to salvation from guilt, sin, and punishment

end (of) - in Hebrew sop - end, conclusion, destiny; rear guard

Matthew Henry:
"you have admitted fear enough to bring you to God, do not now admit that which will drive you from him again."