Thursday, February 24, 2005

Joy Fights Fear

I hate when my kids get sick! I worry too much. My mind has a tendency to focus on the worst possible outcome (no matter how unlikely)and I usually make myself feel as miserable as my sick child. My mind knows that I am to trust in God for not only healing but wisdom to take the best possible care of my sick child but my faith is often weak in this area. I have, however, discovered an effective weapon against this fear and when I remember to use it, it works every time. Focusing on the Joy of the Lord is what quickly gets me out of fear.

Just last night, as I held Alyssa's too-warm body next to mine and tried to console her in the rocking chair, that old familiar dread swept over me. "Oh God, what if my baby gets really, really sick? There are so many people getting very ill. What if it is something serious?" These self-defeating, anxiety-provoking thoughts are then followed by guilt and lots of unanswerable questions. "Where did she get this germ from anyway?", "Did I have her around too many other kids last week?" and "Did I wash her hands enough?".

Needless to say, these thoughts do not help Alyssa get better any sooner and they do nothing to help me to help her. So instead of making myself more miserable for no reason, I focus on God's Word about joy. I recognize dealing with my children's illnesses is a serious weakness of mine so the first thing that I want to pray for is strength.

I focus on Nehemiah 8:10 "...Do not sorrow for the joy of the Lord is your strength." (NKJV) According to John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible for Nehemiah 8:10, rejoicing in God "will give you that strength both of mind and body, which you greatly need, both to perform all the duties required of you, and to oppose all the designs of your enemies." I know that when I have a sick child, I have many extra duties to perform (usually on less sleep) and I need to resist the forces of evil that cause disease and doubt.

Last night, in my most fearful hour, I sang a song I learned in church as a child: The chorus of "The joy of the Lord is my strength, the joy of the Lord is my strength..." followed by my favorite verse "My heart is filled with laughter, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha..." kept my fears at bay and even seemed to make Alyssa feel better.

I will rejoice in the Lord always!

Today's Devotional:

Help me to stay out of fear, Lord. I am a more mature Christian and a better parent when I focus on my joy in the Lord and His goodness and salvation. Keep me rejoicing in you always!

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