Fear and discouragement
Even as the politicians are proclaiming that the economy is improving, hundreds of thousands of breadwinners are finding themselves without work. It is generally acknowledged that the current financial situation is the worst since the Great Depression. The level of spending by the federal government would have been considered reckless insanity only a few years ago and the national debt threatens to stifle future generations.
The uncertainty regarding taxation (the only uncertainty is how high taxes will go) has caused businesses to proceed with extreme caution. Many businesses are using the uncertain economy as justification to slash both jobs and benefits. It is, then, understandable that people are finding themselves fearful about the future — both the short-term and the long-term future.
This is not, of course, the only time in human history — or even in recent memory — that people have faced uncertain days. The “baby boomer” generation has lived through the threat of thermonuclear annihilation, the Cuban crisis, Vietnam, presidential malfeasance, plunging stock markets, and a host of greater and lesser threats. Previous generations have encountered their own challenges, both at a personal and at a national level.
Thousands of years ago, the prophet Isaiah, and those of his generation, faced very disturbing and uncertain circumstances. Into this troubled time came a divine word.
“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.” Isaiah 41:10 NIV
The two most powerful destructive forces that most people face are the twin emotions of fear and discouragement. Discouragement (or dismay) deals with the present. Fear normally concerns the future. Franklin D. Roosevelt said during a troubled time that, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”
Fear can debilitate a person or a nation and can rob people of hope. Discouragement can keep people from even getting out of bed in the morning. As of January of 2010, 661,000 “discouraged workers” were no longer actively seeking employment and thus not considered unemployed.
The promise of Isaiah is that fear and discouragement are not the only players on the field. Into the midst of these troubled waters comes a promise from no less than God Himself: “I am with you ... I am your God ... I will strengthen ... and help you ... I will uphold you.” The promise is that the Creator has assured those who trust Him that they will not go through tough times alone — and more than that — He will intervene on their behalf.
It is difficult to see with the eye of faith when the physical eye sees fearful and discouraging prospects. Yet, this is what faith is about — seeing the invisible and trusting when every sense cries out to trust not. Each day is new with unexplored possibilities.
It was belief — faith — that the right would prevail over the wrong that led Sir Winston Churchill to speak of struggle, sacrifice, hope, and victory during England’s darkest days of World War II. Sir Winston would later say, “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
Never give in to fear and discouragement either. We are not alone, however lonely it may seem. God is with us.
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and is the mission pastor of Christ the King Fellowship in Champaign, IL. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]