For as long as I can remember, I have avoided the news like the plague. At 4:00 on days where I'm free, I love watching Ellen Degeneres. She brings so much joy and laughter. But as soon as the hour ends and the 5:00 news starts - click, off goes the TV or the channel changes. I know that not all of the news is bad or sad, but sooo much of it is. And I understand that some awareness of what is happening around me is good. But for me, I can't be constantly bombarded with all the bad in the world because all it does is bring me sadness and fear.
Prime example...hearing all of the Ebola news about the endless cases in Africa and the ones that keep popping up in the States, is a lot to handle. For a girl who avoids the regular news and it's heaviness, the thoughts of an epidemic sweeping our nation shakes my world a bit. The other night I lay awake with tears streaming down my face, dampening my pillow as I couldn't get these thoughts out of my head. It was like an avalanche- these fears led to others which led to others which led to an overwhelming feeling of being like a little girl convinced that there's a monster under the bed just waiting to jump out and get me. I hate when moments like this come and I feel so unable to control my thoughts. Praise God that my husband was there to hold me as I cried and tried to rationalize with myself and convince my brain to think of other things because man, I felt like I. was. stuck.
Fear is like an ever-changing monster of darkness that feeds on itself, doing whatever it can to extinguish the light. And for me, being in the darkness, lying in bed at night- is when this monster seems to have the easiest time working its way towards me.
I am a very visual thinker, (hence the monster descriptions) and so when I start to feel afraid, to me it feels as if I can literally see a cloud of darkness coming over me. So what's the first thing I want to do? Turn on the light. Turning on the light illuminates the room, bringing reality into focus and ridding the shadows that creatively became a creature in the corner of my imagination. Turning on the light helps me be able to distinguish from what is real and what is simply my fear.
One of my all-time favorite Bible verses and one that I cling to most heavily when I feel the darkness weighing on my heart (or physically in a dark room) comes from Psalm 139:11-12. It says,"Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me, even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.'"
I cannot tell you how much comfort it brings me, to be reminded of these verses (and the ones before it that tell us there is nowhere we can go that the Spirit will not be with us) when I am struggling with fear. To be quite honest, if I am home alone and hear a noise and the darkness suddenly brings all sorts of fears to my mind, over and over in my head I will repeat a version of this verse saying, Even the darkness is not dark to you for the night is as bright as the day. And then I'll repeat it to myself again Even the darkness is not dark to you, for the night is as bright as the day. It's like a chant in my head that starts out quiet and grows louder as I gain confidence in the reminder that I am not alone- that with God, there is no darkness and that with Him I can bring light to, and conquer my fear.
I am so confident that we have a God who is much bigger and stronger than any of the darkness or fears that we face. He's bigger than Ebola, he's bigger than the violence on the streets, he's bigger than the "monsters" that form in the darkness as I try to go to sleep- as Junior Asparagus from Veggie Tales would say - "God is bigger than the Boogie Man. He's bigger than godzilla or the monsters on TV! Oh, God is bigger than the Boogie Man and He's watching out for you and me." Praise God that this is true. I am so so thankful.
The problem though, is this. We live in a world with a lot of darkness and a lot to be afraid of. And unfortunately, that's not something that we can fix in the blink of an eye. But, there is something that we can do. We can bring light to the darkness in this world by proclaiming the name of Jesus; We can stop thinking about all the things that freak us out and make us want to curl up and hide under a blanket - we can extinguish these fears by changing our focus to the One True God who we know will bring light to the darkest of days and give us the strength to endure whatever is in front of us. We can choose to bring light to the darkness.
This is SO not easy. I had a terrible time moving past my fears the other night- it felt like a long fight, but with His grace and some loving encouragement from my sweet husband, I dried my tears, blew my nose and did my best to block out the negative thoughts that plagued me. John 16:33 says, " In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." Praise God that the darkness cannot touch Him; that with Him the night is brighter than the day, and that through His Son we can look forward to a world without fear because He has overcome- He has won the victory.
I know that I have many fear-filled days ahead of me- but I am going to do whatever I can, to fight the fight and refuse to let the darkness overshadow the light. My prayer is that you will too- that amidst the craziness that is this world we live in, that we would find peace in the One who created us.