Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake

Today I am thinking about fear – for a variety of reasons, some rational and some not, I feel a little like the kid trying to learn to ride a bike without training wheels but keeps getting derailed by looking back to make sure the dad is still holding onto the bike. There is that old saying about faith being the opposite of fear, the two not being able to coexist, and I’m finding that it truly is difficult to maintain a sense of faith when fear is on the brain.

Faith is a little bit new for me still but I’m an old hat with fear. I understand fear, I know what things to be afraid of so I get into panic mode sometimes when I feel like I’m having a down day – down days can quickly spiral into down weeks or months. Or I get a little freaked out when I’m feeling spiritually detached – that can become a years-long drought. For whatever reason, those fears have just been more prominent in my mind and heart of late.

However, I’m grateful that despite the prominence of the fear, I’m not forgetting the rewards I’ve experienced as a result of faith. They are just as real, even if sometimes they seem harder to justify or explain, easier to rationalize, or maybe just harder to remember. Negative experiences tend to maintain a greater degree of vivacity in my memory than do the positive ones, my Sadness brain operator is maybe a little more strong-willed than Joy (Inside Out reference) – one reason I’m trying to record what I think/feel/believe more regularly.

Ultimately I do believe the Lord is on my side. I know He won’t always be holding on to my bike but that it’s important not to panic. I haven’t been in some kind of faith bubble that might burst at any moment. He hasn’t gone anywhere and isn’t going anywhere – He will not leave me or forsake me.

Deep Waters

Continuing my hymn-oriented gospel studying….I was reading through How Firm a Foundation yesterday and about some of the history behind it. The song is structured so that the first verse sets up the foundation on which we should build (God’s word) and then the subsequent verses all come from various promises in the bible (third verse – Isaiah 41:10, seventh verse – Hebrews 13:5, etc.). But the one that I spent the most time on was verse four*:

Opposition in all things, the value of trials being greater than that of goldthe refiners fire, glorying in tribulation…I’ve heard all of these phrases over and over of course, but I’m not terribly good at remembering that all these things will give me experience and be for my good in the middle of “these things”. Most people aren’t of course.

The perspective I am gaining on the past, however, is allowing me to appreciate the value of problems that have passed. I was talking with my aunt a few days ago and we both mentioned some of the darkest periods of our lives and how, despite the utter misery we felt, neither of us would go back and change what happened. It is a little bit crazy not to want to avoid life-derailing despair, but for my part I can’t seem to be okay with losing everything I felt and learned.

It’s pretty easy to feel that way when the good experiences seem to be in the present and future and the worst experiences in the past, but I believe that  “to this day has the God of my fathers delivered me out of them all, and will deliver me from henceforth.

I wouldn’t consider my experience with Depression sacred or spiritual in any sense as my attempts to find a religious lifeline resulted in anger, frustration, and a feelings of being forgotten or unworthy or even valueless. I can’t really identify what pieces of the experience allowed me to arrive where I am now, but because of it I believe the promise of the fourth verse. I’m grateful for the sanctification I’ve received from my deepest distress.

*Verse four is added as one of those supplemental verses at the bottom of hymns that we never actually sing, despite the fact that most hymns include four verses as the “regulars”, and it’s a shame. This is one of the many changes I would like to propose for the next edition of the hymn book.