God never tells us to be afraid. He tells us to hate evil, flee evil, and to be alert and wise about evil, but not to fear evil. God does not tell us to fear the times. In fact, He commands us not to be alarmed (Matthew 24:6). God sometimes stirs fear in our enemies to accomplish His purposes, but He does not give the spirit of fear to His people (2 Timothy 1:7).
Throughout Scripture God both chides and comforts His people with the phrase "Fear not" or "Do not be afraid." From the first "Fear not" recorded in the Bible in Genesis to the last in Revelation, God unites those words to some statement about Himself. In Genesis He tells Abram, "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward" (Genesis 15:1). In the last book of the Bible God speaks to the apostle John, "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades" (Revelation 1:17-18). When God says, "Do not be afraid," He means to lift our eyes off the circumstance and focus our gaze on Him.
"Fear not" were the very words the angel spoke to Mary, our Lord's mother (Luke 1:30), and He has been speaking those same words to mothers ever since. He knows our tendency to succumb to fear and the debilitating results on us and our children. He does not say that dangers don't exist. They do. Sometimes our worst fears do come upon us. Even then, it is who God is, what God says, and that God is with us that really matters.
We are, unfortunately, given to fearing the wrong things and the wrong people. God tells us to fear Him. This phrase is frequently repeated in the Bible. Fearing God means we are to take God seriously, to regard Him as holy, to worship, trust, and obey Him.
I used to cling to Psalm 34:7 in my times of terror: "The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them." But the promise for deliverance is not for those who are afraid, but for those who fear the Lord.
What does this mean for us as mothers?
Fear does more harm than good. Recognize that your fears do your family more harm than good. Fears make us controlling. Fears make us tense. Fears show us, at that moment, not to be people of faith. Fears show us, at that moment, not to be people of hope. And unfortunately, fears often show us, at that moment, not to be people of love. Just as love casts out fear (1 John 4:18), it seems fears cast out love. Parents often drive their children from them and from faith by their fears.
Our fears may press us either to frenzied decision or paralyzed indecision, to rash and regrettable words or a petrified silence, to unwarranted suspicions or unwise denial. For certain, our fears do our families more harm than good.
God is in control. Acknowledge that God has chosen you and your family to live exactly where you are at exactly this time in history. If we charted history on a graph to determine the best time to rear children, we would be hard-pressed to find a good time. After Adam and Eve sinned it was all downhill. In fact, if we were drawing our graph I believe we would have a hard time deciding whether times were good times or bad times. Would we want to rear children during the golden age of the Old Testament, when David was king? Adultery, rape, and murder were part of the royal family's story. Would the years when Jesus walked this earth be a good time? No other period was graced with the physical presence of God come in flesh, but hundreds of babies were slaughtered in Bethlehem within two years of His birth (Matthew 2:13-18). The land where Jesus was born was under enemy occupation, the religious establishment was cold and corrupt, and God had been silent for roughly 400 years prior to His coming. Was the first century of Christianity a good time or a bad time? The church was afire, the good news was spreading, but believers were being torn apart by lions.
Are we in a good time or a bad time? Obviously, we see many grievous things in our culture. But, perhaps more mothers gather to pray for their children and their schools today than any other time in history. Around the United States high school students meet at the flagpole before class to pray. Whenever God moves His people to gather together to pray, He hears and does something extraordinary.
But suppose this really is one of the worst times. God assures us that He has chosen us to live at this specific time of history for a purpose: "From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us" (Acts 17:26-27).
The parable of the weeds provides us with a helpful picture of life on earth (Matthew 13:24-30,36-43). The servants of the landowner are distressed because an enemy has sown weeds among the good seed. The landowner tells his servants to wait until harvest to separate the two crops. For us as well, the bad and the good must grow up together.
God calls us to faith, hope, and love. "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Hebrews 11:1). Faith and hope are intertwined. Both are tied to believing that what God says is true. Both have to do with unseen realities. Faith says, "I believe what God says about the invisible." Hope says, "I believe what God says about the future."
In heaven we will have no need for faith or hope; all will be visible, tangible reality. But love has a place for eternity. Perhaps this is why it is said: "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love" (1 Corinthians 13:13).
As mothers, we exercise our faith when we look beyond what is visible. Although Saint Augustine (354-430) had a believing, praying mother, he was involved in immoral living and dabbled in strange philosophies and sects. Augustine was thirty before he became a follower of Christ. William Wilberforce (1759-1833) grew up in a home where Christ was honored, but was absorbed in the sporting and social life. Wilberforce came to true faith through a tutor at Queens College where the two of them read aloud to each other literary classics and the Bible and discussed what they read. After his conversion to Christ, Wilberforce was discipled by John Newton, the converted former slave ship captain who wrote the great hymn "Amazing Grace." Newton encouraged Wilberforce to memorize Scripture, do Bible study, and be Christ's man in the British Parliament where Wilberforce spent most of his public life passing legislation against slavery.
My point? Just because your children are not where you would like to see them at this point in time does not mean all hope is lost. Keep praying and trusting God to work. Pray specifically for the people that God might bring into their lives to influence them. We have all heard dramatic stories of conversion where God touched people who did not have the privilege of learning of Christ in their homes. Our hearts beat faster as we hear their stories. We exalt in the fact that God can reach down and redeem in amazing ways. But often when it comes to our own children we need the challenge to have faith.
Excerpted from A Mother's Heart by Jean Fleming copyright 1982, 1996. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved.
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