A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog all about how we were in a season of mourning at Maple Tree. At the time, we had three patients who had recently lost their battles with cancer. We were taking it pretty hard.
Fast forward to 10 days ago.
In the early morning of August 4, three of our exercise trainers were shot in the mass shooting at the Oregon District. One of them, Nicholas Cumer, was fatally wounded.
Once again, we are taking it pretty hard.
As the story unfolded last week, we learned that Nick was killed as he shielded the two other wounded trainers from gunfire.
Nick died a hero.
Heroes aren’t supposed to die.
Honestly, I have struggled with this all week long.
We seem to be in a season of mourning at Maple Tree. The researching, analytical-thinker in me wants to know why. I want to know what the purpose is in all this. I want to understand so I can apply that lesson to my life, and become a better version of myself.
But sometimes, there are no answers.
Sometimes, understanding never comes.
Where do you turn in circumstances like these?
The way I see it, we have two options.
We can respond in fear.
We can become afraid to leave our house. We can obsess over and over again about what happened. We can watch all the surveillance footage from that night, read all the articles, respond to all the social media rants, turn everything into a political battle, and become angry…then bitter…then isolated. We can lose sleep. We can eat all the junk food. We can lose our patience and then cry because we lost our patience. We can try to numb the pain through online shopping.
If I just described you, no judgment here. I have done all of the above this past week.
So, speaking from experience, I can tell you that this doesn’t work.
Fear doesn’t work.
Fear breads fear. It breads negativity, and anxiety, and stress, and worry.
There has to be a better way.
This brings me to option two.
If you ask me on a good day, or on a day when I was feeling particularly brave, I would tell you to let your faith be bigger than your fear.
“Faith over fear” sounds good. It looks good on a coffee mug.
But on a day like today…it’s hard.
Honestly, choosing faith over fear almost feels like giving up.
But maybe…just maybe, that is exactly what God wants from us.
When we reach the end of our understanding. The end of our logic. The end of ourselves– only then do we come face to face with our humanity.
We are created beings. We are weak and limited.
Therefore, we won’t understand every single thing that happens to us. We can’t!
We cannot see beyond today. Our feelings change from one moment to the next, and yet we allow them to govern our lives.
On the other hand, God is all powerful. He is all knowing. He is in control of every single thing that happens. He actually does know what the future holds, and has promised to allow all things (ALL THINGS!) to work together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).
Sometimes, He allows things to happen in our life that we don’t like…. or even things that we hate.
Sometimes, we just can’t figure out why.
When times like this come, the very best thing we can do is cling to our faith. Literally, chose faith over our fear.
Here’s how that works:
Times of trouble can lead us to doubt God’s love and faithfulness. Choosing faith over fear means that we cling to the promise found in Romans 8:38 – and trust that NOTHING can separate us from His love.
When our questions go unanswered and we are tempted to despair, choosing faith over fear means we meditate on Proverbs 3:5. We trust in the Lord with all of our hearts and lean not on our own – limited – understandings.
When we see evil all around us and anxiety begins to mount, we can choose faith over fear and look to Joshua 1:9, gaining strength from knowing that God is with us wherever we may go.
When we cry so much that it seems there are no more tears left, we can choose faith over fear and remember Psalm 30:5, where God promises limits to our weeping. Joy will come soon!
And finally, in all things, we can choose faith over fear by praying prayers of thankfulness. In return, God grants us a peace that is beyond our understanding (Philippians 4:6-7).
Peace. Joy. Strength. Trust. Love.
Negativity. Anxiety. Stress. Worry.
Option 1 or Option 2.
It is more than just a cute slogan on a t-shirt. To me, choosing faith over my fear is the path towards healing, hope, and abundant life.