Fear is a more frequent companion these days – for a very good reason that was summed up by a quote in Sunday’s sermon: “Everywhere I look, a new river of blood seems to flow.” (The North Face of God, by Ken Gire) 1
Maybe “maturity” makes me see things I missed in times past – maybe the wonderful distractions of raising a family; having stamina, courage, curiosity, and time were blinded me to much I now see. I did not grasp the dimensions of the slaughter in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Croatia and Herzegovina; or, of the bombings in Lebanon, Nigeria and later, the World Trade Center in 1993. These shocked me, but did not terrify me.
God knows rivers of blood flowed then . . . but now there are days when it looks like a tsunami of blood is bearing down on our nation – and if not that, then extraordinarily hard times, times of testing. Such hard times are now uprooting and displacing thousands upon ten thousands of people. 2
It’s not the first time – old LIFE magazines showed huge numbers of displaced persons after WWII. My husband Doug remembers seeing these photos as a child.
So, it is with aging, more fearful eyes that I read again the book of James, last week and then, providentially encountered it in the worship service – written to those for whom the unthinkable was happening:
Trials can be an opportunity for great joy . . . 3
James! Have you lost your mind?
James knew then what I must believe this day – God is right there with me when stuff happens, and deliverance from suffering doesn’t always happen, and all around may be dark, inky black and scary.
An anonymous writer said, Fear is the darkroom in which all of your negatives are developed.
Do you remember darkrooms – rooms where no light save a safelight was permitted so that the wonders of photographs could be developed from negatives? And that’s what the book of James is for me right now: a kind of light that lets me safely see in these times, when the pictures daily developed from the news are chillingly unpredictable.
Fear about what’s going to happen is a negative I don’t need to develop – even if the basis for the fear is rational. Prayer safely illumines fearful negatives; so too does a mustard seed’s size of faith. Lead us not into temptations, dear Lord, but deliver us from evil. 3