An Ever-Present Help in Trouble
Written by Erika Castiglione
I consider myself to be a bit of a fear expert.
I have done a lifetime of personal research. In fact, I can’t remember a time when fear wasn’t a major part of my life. I distinctly remember hearing the story of the fall of man in Sunday school as a child and being frightened. While all of the other kids were happily coloring in a picture of Adam and Eve, standing strategically behind greenery, apple in hand, I was contemplating the horrors of an evil talking snake. Soon after, my family went to see the movie The Jungle Book, which features Kaa, an evil talking snake who tries to coerce Mowgli into disobedience. It undid me, and I spent the rest of the movie eating Raisinets with my mom in the lobby.
There were other fears, too: sitting in the backseat while the car went through the carwash (unsettling), the witch in The Wizard of Oz (scary), and the automaton gorilla in the band at Chuck E. Cheese (terrifying!). As I matured, my fears did as well. In my teens, I feared rejection, the death of a loved one, being kidnapped, an intruder breaking into my house, rape, demon possession, and the end times (it was the nineties after all). Even though I became a Christian as a child, and knew God loved me and died for my sins, I could never experience relief from the fears that plagued me.
It wasn’t until the summer between my first and second year of college, that I began to see a glimmer of hope within the pages of a beloved children’s book. I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for the first time while working as a counselor at a Christian camp, and I was blown away by Aslan and the description of a hero that “wasn’t safe, but good.”
I began to contemplate what it means to have a holy fear of God. Before that summer, I had seen God as gentle, loving, and kind (praise God, he is truly all those things), but I had never really considered His limitless power. As I meditated on Revelation 1:9-20, Isaiah 6, and the Psalms that tell of God’s strength, I began to realize that God, alone, is worthy of my fear. I took great comfort in knowing that the God who is enthroned above all and infinitely stronger than any power in heaven or earth, is my king and my father, and my lesser fears began to dim.
I haven’t arrived. Becoming a parent and entrusting my children to God has often rekindled old fears and brought out new ones. Yet, as I train myself to focus on God’s unchanging character instead of uncertain circumstances, I am beginning to experience peace in the midst of chaos.
Focusing on His power reminds me I have a refuge and defender.
Focusing on His wisdom reminds me that He knows what he is doing even when it doesn’t make sense to me.
Focusing on His loving-kindness reminds me that we are not forgotten.
Focusing on His beauty reminds me that there is joy to be had even in a fallen world.
And, focusing on His sovereignty reminds me that He has a plan, He is faithful to see it accomplished, and, for those who call on His name, the ending will be better than anything we could have imagined.
We have definitely entered into uncertain times, and it is right be cautious and concerned, but I pray we won’t be overcome by fear.
I pray this will be an opportunity to dig into God’s word and uncover the riches of His character. I pray we would sing about it, talk (or text) about it, that we would write about it, that we would teach it to our children, and we would remember it when we wake in the night.
He is all-powerful.
He is all-loving.
He is near.
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth. A song.
1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. 5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. 6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. 10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.