Fear-demic

I am afraid. I am afraid that the media and our government thrive on fear. They push it and sell it. Any good news on the pandemic is met with a quick reminder of how many deaths have occurred. Fear sells. No one tunes into the media to hear good news, but a pandemic, a wildfire or an ice-storm, brings fear, which results in ratings and viewers. Similarly, no one needs the government when things are good, but fear allows the government to gain power, to step in and control what we do, what we wear, and even what we think. The media and the government thrive on fear because they need us to want them, and to need them. In return they stroke that fire of fear, and the cycle continues. We turn to them in fear and we leave them with more fear.

Contrast that with God. God doesn’t need us, but He wants us. God doesn’t need us, but we do need Him. He doesn’t call us to Him so that he can stir up fear, He calls us to Him, because He loves us and wants to take away our fear. Over and over we are told in the bible: DO NOT FEAR:

Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all. For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I will help you.”

Isaiah 41:10-13

We have lived the last two years in a pandemic. But more concerning is the fear-demic: a fear-demic that we are allowing to control whether we allow others to see our smile, whether we visit with family and friends, whether we share touch and embraces, whether we live our lives in the manner that God calls us to live. We have closed churches and failed to return when they re-opened. We turn to the media for our Sunday service (if at all) and we stream it alone. We have lost community and connection. We have ignored God and trampled on love, and any signs of it.

Unlike the media and the government, God does not leave us with more fear. No. God offers us peace. And comfort. God offers to carry our burdens. God offers to hold our hand (even in a pandemic) and help us. God encourages us to live in communion, in community with others. If we turn to Him, if we allow Him to be our God (not the media, or a sports hero or a politician), He will strengthen us. And those who are against us (and must therefore also be against God) will be as nothing. How can we fear, if we are with God?

Lord,

I fear not for me, but for this country. I fear for those who do not know you, for those who turn to the media and the government for things that only you can provide. By doing so they build up the power and strength of those entities. I know that you are far stronger. You build up the power and strength of those who turn to you. Rather than taking from us, you give to us. Strengthen us, Oh Lord! Help those who fear, turn to you, so that they can know the peace and joy that you provide.

I know that you are my God. You are the source of my strength. You are my rock and my fortress. You are my sword and my shield. I know that when I am with you, I have nothing to fear. Help me, in those times when I have fallen or turned away, when I am not with you as I should be, to not be swayed by the siren songs of the world. Help me to always return to you when I am lost or afraid.

Bread of Life

Basic human needs are food and water.  We cannot survive without them.  Four hours out in the sun and I feel like I am dying without water.  One bottle is not enough.

Today the Bible opened here:

All you who are thirsty, come to the water!  You who have no money, come, buy grain and eat; Come, buy grain without money, wine and milk without cost!  Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what does not satisfy?  Only listen to me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare.  Pay attention and come to me; listen, that you may have life.  I will make with you an everlasting covenant, the steadfast loyalty promised to David.  As I made him a witness to peoples, a leader and commander of peoples,  So shall you summon a nation you knew not, and a nation that knew you not shall run to you, Because of the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, who has glorified you.

Isaiah 55:1-5

As I read these words, I am reminded of Jesus’ words:

“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

John 6:35

We know our hunger and thirst for food and water.  If we are able, we satisfy that hunger and thirst.  Many of us, at least I do, over-satisfy that hunger.  We satisfy this human need.  But that greater need, we often leave still thirsting.  We sometimes ignore our hunger and thirst for God.  We need food and water daily.  I know there is not a day that goes by that I do not receive both, in more quantities than I need.  I cannot say the same thing about the living bread and water.

We participate in can food drives for the hungry, serve meals in soup kitchens and homeless shelters, deliver food and water to hurricane and other disaster victims.  We help satisfy the human needs of our neighbors and friends, but what are we doing for their spiritual needs.  What are we doing to help them come to the water?

God reminds us repeatedly throughout the Bible that just like the bread and water that we need for life on earth, we need the living bread and water that only comes through God for eternal life.  We go through life hungry for it and unsatisfied, and often we do not even know that that is the emptiness we feel.  We spend money on all the things that the TV ads tell us will make us happy, will satisfy our every need, but no material thing ever does.  Instead we continue to suffer from depression and anxiety — a dissatisfaction with life.

Let us come to the water!

Dear Lord,

You know our every need.  Please help all who are thirsty and hungry to find the food and drink that they nee.  Help them to recognize what they truly hunger for.  I know I thirst and hunger for more of you.  Help me to help others find and satisfy their basic needs.

A Highway Thru Harvey

We are not powerful.  When we look at the world around us, at God’s creation.  It is clear, we are no match.  Tonight the Bible opened to Isaiah:

Do you not know?  Have you not heard?

The LORD is God from of old, creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not faint or grow weary, and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny.  He gives power to the faint, abundant strength to the weak.  Though young men faint and grow weary, and youths stagger and fall, They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar on eagles’ wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31

Texas and Louisiana are struggling from Hurricane Harvey.  There are many who may be feeling weak or weary as the rain continues to fall.  And there are many others throughout the country and throughout the world are struggling with their own battles and tragedies.  When a large  tragedy occurs there are many calls to reach out to help  with money and supplies.  Celebrities get involved and it seems that everyone bands together to help.  They need our help.  But money and earthly goods are not enough and it is not enough to only reach out when the tragedy is large.  Whether it is victims of a massive destruction, a single fire or a drug addiction, they all need our help.  They all need our prayers and reminders that God is there.  God does not grow faint or weary.  He continues to walk beside us, no matter how far we walk, no matter how deep the water we find ourselves in.  He gives us power and strength, when we ask, when we believe, when we have faith.  As Isaiah tells us: They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar on eagles’ wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.

This chapter of Isaiah starts with these words:

Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.

God’s people need comfort.  Human comfort.  Human evidence of God’s love.  We may not be able to save everyone or make anything physically better, but we can remind those who are suffering that God will give strength, that God loves us, that God does not grow weary.  We can bring comfort.

Isaiah goes further:

Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!  Every valley shall be lifted up, every mountain and hill made low; The rugged land shall be a plain, the rough country, a broad valley.  Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Isaiah 40:3-5

Harvey is creating a wasteland.  Where does God work better than with those in need.  Straight through the destruction is a highway for God where God’s glory will be revealed.  I often see God more clearly in my darkest days, in my tragedies, in my sorrow.  It is what we make of our tragedies.  Let’s make a highway, a fast lane, a fast pass straight to God.  Let’s turn our fear into faith, our pain into joy.  God gives us strength.  He gives us comfort.  No matter the destruction or earthly devastation there is a pathway to God and when things seem at their worst, it is a highway, a fast pass.  Because every struggle has an end date, we just need God’s help to not grow weary.  We need our faith to keep us strong.  Through every storm, eventually the sun will shine.  And we will see it brighter than we did before.  We will rejoice in it.  For the glory of God is forever.

Lord,

Help those who are struggling tonight.  Help them feel your comfort, help them know your love.  Help us all make a highway to you.