Do not fear the darkness

A few nights ago, as I was sitting at my kitchen table reading a book, my phone "dinged" with a message. It was a friend, and they were overwhelmed because of the evil that is rising up in this world.

They couldn't escape it.It was in their newspapers, on the TV, and everywhere on social media.Day after day, things do not seem to be getting better.

This world is getting darker.Threats are shot across communities and nations.Division is escalating.Terror is growing.Wars are brewing.Hopelessness, uncertainty, and fear abound.

Evil is breaking the mold, showing no limits, no boundaries.Sickness and disease are arriving on a global scene creating fear and chaos.Overwhelmed by it all, my friend reached out, and simply stated, "I'm struggling with fear."

My friend isn't alone.There are many who are growing anxious with the constant threat of financial collapse, disease, nations threatening nations, and rumors of unrest and war.

Others struggle with fears much closer to home;a failing marriage, an unexpected diagnosis, a wayward child, suffocating debt, or a job whose future is now in question.

If we are not careful, fear and anxiety over any combination of these scenarios can steal the joy and peace out of our lives, leaving us in despair.

God has given us some tools to overcome these fears.Allow me to share with you some verses that have given me strength and restored my peace in times of uncertainty.

Isaiah 41:10 is a verse the Lord gave to me when I was in a time of great testing.My life was at a crossroads, and I did not know what my future held.

In a time when I desperately needed the Lord to speak, he did so: "Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

Those words spoke so profoundly, it was as if the Lord were reading them out loud to me.He commanded me not to fear any longer and backed his command with a promise.

He was with me.I was not alone.As God's assurance brought comfort into my situation, I received a deep peace knowing that whatever the outcome, God was going to be with me.He was not going to leave me.

Deuteronomy 31:6 says,"Be strong and courageous.Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."

The premise of this verse is similar.Once again, God is reassuring us that he is with us.

However, he gives us an additional promise of future security: He will never leave us or forsake us.His love runs too deep.

His commitment to his children far surpasses that of human parents who can cave under pressure.He is with us today, and he's not going anywhere tomorrow.

The reason God is so fiercely committed to us is found in Isaiah 43:1, "But now, this is what the Lord saysFear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine."

Our relationship with God as his children gives us reason not to fear.He has redeemed us - he bought us with a price - the blood of Jesus Christ.

He called us by name.He has a plan and purpose for our life, even in times of great uncertainty.We must remember, God is with us, and he's not going anywhere because we belong to him.

Paul shared with Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

The Spirit of God that abides in us as followers of Christ does not allow us to stay in a state of fear or despair.God's Spirit has driven that out in his perfect love.

He has left us with great power so we will stand in victory.He has filled us with great love that we might also lift others from despair, and a sound mind that will not leave us in a state of anxiety paralyzed to carry out God's will in my present situation.

The next time you begin to feel like my friend who was struggling with fear, cling to the promises of these verses.Write them down and hang them on the wall if you have to.

Refuse to live this life God has given to you in fear when anxiety overwhelms you, lean on God's truth.

Call out to him as the psalmist in Psalm 34:4, "I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.He freed me from all my fears."

Heed the words of Jesus, "Don't be afraid; just believe" (Mark 5:36).

May the Lord grant you joy and peace that you may shine confidently and brightly in the darkness.n

Rev. John Green is pastor of the Cornerstone Church of Clarion.