10 do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.
It has been said that “Fear and faith cannot live in the same house”…and while I agree that this is true, I also believe that they can be neighbors, with fear pounding on the walls, playing loud music, and yelling late at night…fear can make itself known even though we are living in faith, and can disrupt our peace.
As parent we are not strangers to fear…even though as single parents we may like to feel as if we are a little bit tougher than partnered parents, having learned many of our parenting lessons on anvils of the experience of making a lot of mistakes on our way to figuring out what works and what does not!
By the time my daughter was in middle school I was feeling like I had this whole parenting thing down, like I had nothing more to fear from being a parent…I was an expert and nothing could phase me; then she became a teenager!
The teen years brought with them a whole new level of fear, uncertainty and frustration!
As my daughter went her own way in life, and began to experiment with people and activities that I saw were bad for her, I often felt as if I was powerless to help her get back on track. No matter what I tried she seemed to move farther and farther away from me…and in time I just lost hope and let too much go as things got worse! My bottom came about two years ago when I became overwhelmed with fear and frustration, and I felt like my prayers for help were not being ignored…I was also out of work and draining my IRA account. It is at this time that I actually thought of simply leaving home, and disappearing for a while.
On one of my worst days, I went a nearby lake and just sat and looked out at the sunlight reflecting off of the water, and as I did, I prayed, half in jest, that if there was any hope at all for myself or my daughter that I would see a fish jump…just as I finished my prayer, a fish jumped!!! And ever since, whenever I have gone to that lake, I have seen fish jumping (except when it was frozen of course); these jumping fish have become a sign to me that God is with me, that my prayers are NOT being ignored!
The jumping fish have become a sign of hope for me, a reminder that we are never alone, that God loves us and has compassion for us…and that there is no place we can go where God’s grace does not surround us! Just as our children can never go anywhere that our love cannot find them, nor can they do anything that would cause us to forsake them, even if what they do sometimes breaks our hearts!
Even in the worst of times, we can stop, breathe and remember that God is with us, both in spirit and through those who care for us…and whom we care for…God is also with us through strangers who show us kindness and understanding, professionals, from law enforcement to pastors and counselors who offer us advice and direction…to an unexpected hug or smile from your child.
The presence of God in our lives is our promise that no matter how much noise and trouble fear makes for us in our lives…how much frustration and worry we feel…that there is hope, that God’s love will be victorious, and all of our hard times will pass, and that we will one day know the joy of that fish, breaking free from the dark waters of the lake, and into the bright sunlight of a summer’s day!
Let us Pray:
God, thank your promise of love, for surrounding us with your grace, and giving us hope that can shine brightly even during the darkest of times. Help us to have faith in your presence, faith that can keep us free from the fears that can disturb our peace, and prevent us from experiencing the joy of living, and the joy of being a parent.