by Dr. Rick Ezell; Senior Pastor, Greer First Baptist Church
Fear-producing events occur with aging:
You are going along; life seems good. You visit the doctor for your annual check-up. Tests are run. A spot on the x-ray doesn’t look right. You are worried.
You and your spouse are enjoying life. Then, your spouse has a sudden heart attack. Gone. You are alone.
You enter retirement, thinking you have enough money saved to maintain your present lifestyle. But a series of unfortunate events force you to down-size, leaving the home you have known for the last thirty years. You are angry.
You are active—long walks, tennis, golf, gardening, and trips with friends. But a nasty fall results in broken bones. A lengthy hospital stay turns into time at the assisted living facility then therapy at home two days a week. Once active, now you depend on others for simple chores. You are frustrated.
Someone once described flying an airplane as hours of boredom interrupted by moments of sheer terror. Life is like that, too, isn’t it?
What do we do in the interrupted moments of sheer terror? The Bible offers a simple command: “Do not be afraid”—the most oft quoted command in the Bible, stated 366 times. Why so frequent? Perhaps God knew that we would struggle with fear, facing moments of fright and panic. How can we not be afraid in those times?
Realize that Jesus goes before you.
Like the brother in battle who charges up the hill before you, or like the friend who defends you when unjust accusations are made, or like an advance team that goes ahead to make the preparations for a dignitary, Jesus goes ahead of you. He goes before you in the battles and the uncertainties that overwhelm you.
Have you ever entered into a doctor’s office fearful and tense? But you walked away thinking, That wasn’t so bad. Or have you prepared for the worst when life blind-sided you? Following it you thought, That went better than I expected. Jesus went before you to prepare the way. Jesus goes before you to smooth the road that you fear to tread.
Understand that Jesus shows up when we need Him most.
Jesus had a knack for crossing the paths of regular people, meeting them when they needed him the most. After his resurrection, Jesus spoke to a woman grieving in a garden. He encountered two confused women along a path when hurrying to tell their friends about the resurrection. He showed up at a private dinner where his doubting friends were huddled together. He had a fire going for some lonely fishermen, lumbering in from a night on the lake.
Jesus meets you the same way—in the ordinariness of life—just when you need him the most.
Tragically, we look for Jesus in the spectacular and miss him in the normal routines. We look for Jesus in the miraculous and miss him in the mundane.
Jesus meets us where we are: The patient in the doctor’s office; the widow at the funeral; the lonely in the empty house; the dependent in their wheelchair.
Eyes of faith recognize Jesus. Often in the middle of a storm, tormented by waves of disappointment, doubt, and even death, at the last notch on the rope, about to give up on all hope, you will meet Jesus—if you look for him. But the opposite is true too. If you aren’t looking for him you might miss him altogether.
Know that Jesus’ presence accompanies you.
Jesus never says, “I was” or “I will be.” He says, “I am.” Jesus is the present-tense Christ, or better, the “presence-tense” Christ. He walks with his followers. Like a parent, he wraps his enveloping arms around you, especially if the night is the darkest and you are the most scared.
When the ambulance comes, he is with you. When you are wheeled into the ICU, he is present. When you are left to face the empty house, he is there. When health is fading, he is by your side. When the check won’t last the month, he is available.
You can go in those moments when your serene life has been interrupted by sheer terror, knowing that Jesus is alive—he goes before you, he shows up when you need him most, and he walks with you. Because he lives you can face tomorrow. Remember you may not know what the future holds but you know Who holds the future. And, that is enough.