My heart began to race as the apparatus began to move, and I instinctively grabbed the metal bar in front of me. I was entering uncharted territory that day, because until then, I had never been to an amusement park, as they were called back then, nor had I ever even seen a roller coaster, much less climbed aboard one. As the white wooden framework forming the mountainous trestle we were about to climb came into view as we pulled slowly out of the boarding area, I remembered how scary it felt to look down from the upper level of the tobacco barn back home. That was nothing compared to the dizzying height of the track ahead.
Trapped with No Way Out ~ The little car we were strapped into felt wobbly and insecure as we clanked our way up the hill, and it was clear that gripping the bar until my knuckles turned white had no effect on the panic building inside. I was hopelessly trapped in a place I didn’t want to be with no chance to get out, no way to shut it down, and no possibility of turning it around. And if the situation wasn’t miserable enough, some idiot beside me kept screaming “Yee Hah” in my ear over and over. “God,” I thought, “please let a family of full grown stink bugs fly into that guy’s mouth halfway down that hill. And if this thing goes off the rails, whether I live or die, please let me land on him.”
I felt helpless, anxious, and alone. I was trapped in a situation I couldn’t control and the anxiety was overwhelming. I had no prior experience to prepare me and I didn’t know what to expect, so my worst fears rose up to fill in the blanks. Ignorance and uncertainty always promote anxiety and multiply fear. Ignorance is like turning off the lights in a strange room. Things that make perfect sense in the light are troubling mysteries in the dark. Paths that are clear and reasonable in the light are impossible to find in the dark. Ignorance fosters anxiety and the more we’re kept in the dark, the more worried we become, and the more hesitant we are to act. At a time when so much information is manipulated and so much truth is hidden, anxiety and fear are having a heyday, but the Apostle Paul provides the prescription for peace that is not subject to circumstances.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)
Another Enemy ~ Anxiety is not the only enemy confronting us in the turmoil engulfing our nation. The fear that anxiety supports is a plague that we need to dispel, as well. Fear can be an invaluable means of protection in many ways, but it can also be a paralyzing force that was never intended to dominate our lives. One of the admonitions that God delivered to His people over and over when they were facing daunting challenges was simply, fear not. That’s easier to say than it is to do sometimes, but David’s instruction to Solomon reveals a rationale that helps us apply it, and it’s a principle we need to remember right now.
And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD. 1 Chronicles 28:20 (KJV)
A Rationale for Us, Too ~ Solomon wasn’t the only one with a purpose for being where he was and who had a task to fulfill. God puts none of us here randomly. Every one of us has a purpose for being here and tasks to fulfill. We might not know for certain what will happen after November 3rd has come and gone, but we know that we were sent with a purpose and that purpose is not dependent on the outcome of any election. The power to dispel paralyzing fear is the knowledge that we are neither alone nor powerless, and that God will be with us until the work He ordained for us to is completed. We can’t stop the “ride” we’re on. It’s hurtling forward toward things we cannot see, and we can’t get off. This time in our nation is a clear call to apply the energy we waste in worrying, to the work of reformulating our fears into petitions and delivering them to the One who holds our future in His hands. When we turn anxiety into positive action, fear becomes trust, and tension transitions into expectation.
A Comforting Companion ~ The misery I endured on that ride so long ago was heightened by the feeling of being alone. There was no one to reassure me that I was going to be okay and that I would be safe and secure when it was over. Jesus Christ came to ensure that no matter what, none of those who trust Him as Savior will be left to face hard times alone. We may be in for a rough ride, but we have someone riding with us who sees every dip and curve in the road, so we can buckle up, hang on, and know that we’ll step out victorious when it’s over. So despite the incredible pressure of these days, we can experience inexplicable peace and declare with confidence the promise God gave us that defies all that the world can throw our way:
…Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:57-58 (NKJV)
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to Tweet & Share from the pull quotes below. Each quote links directly to this article through Twitter.
- “We may not know for certain what will happen after November 3rd has come and gone, but we know that we were sent with a purpose, and that purpose is not dependent on the outcome of any election.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “The power to dispel paralyzing fear is the knowledge that we are neither alone nor powerless, and that God will be with us until the work He ordained for us to is completed.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “This time in our nation is a clear call to apply the energy we waste in worrying, to the work of reformulating our fears into petitions and delivering them to the One who holds our future in His hands.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Jesus Christ came to ensure that no matter what, none of those who trust Him as Savior will be left to face hard times alone – and we can know that we’ll step out victorious when it’s over.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Despite the incredible pressure of these days, we can experience inexplicable peace and declare with confidence the victorious promise God gave us that defies all that the world can throw our way (1 Corinthians 15:57-58).” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
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Oh, how your memory of the roller coaster brought back the terror I felt years ago when I, on a dare, agreed to ride on one. Never again! But, Ron, you are so right that experiences in our lives might leave us white-knuckled and fear-gripped for the moment, but when we remember all Jesus has done for us, and acknowledge He walks with us through every storm, we can let go of fear and cling to Him. He will always give us the courage to move forward in faith.
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