The possibility of losing a parent is a reality for you. That is not something most kids deal with outside of military communities. So how do you handle that? Do you find yourself walking through each day with a scream tight in your throat? Are you doing all you can to keep the horrible from happening? Maybe you never think about it because letting that thought take voice is too much – ignoring its existence is the only way to deal with it. We all react to the possibilities and realities of life differently. What do you think God has to say about it all?
When I was little, like 6 or 7, I used to stay up nights convinced my whole family was going to die during the night. I wasn’t sure if it would be a fire or home invasion or meteor or what but I would just get these feelings. Problem was, my feelings have always had a tendency to come true.
So I’d lay there listening intently to the sound of my family going to bed. The toilet flushing, sinks running, my dad clearing his throat as he clicked off the lights around the house. Then my door would creak open and I’d close my eyes, miming sleep, as my parents came into pray over me before going to their bed. Sometimes they prayed out loud softly but I couldn’t tell you what they said – my heart was pounding in my ears and I was straining to stay still. Then they’d go to there room and as soon as I heard their light click off I was out of bed and headed for the stairs.
I would go over the whole house, checking locks, searching for candles not extinguished. I’d stare down the street and wait, certain any minute a suspicious van would pull up with dangerous men inside. I was waiting for someone, something, anything that would bring destruction to my family. I was convinced it would come and the fear consumed my whole body. It made me jittery and cold and then hot, anxious, and sweaty. I’d crawl back into bed just to jump out at the slightest sound and go through my rounds again.
Clearly my nightly vigils were not validated. My family never underwent an attack or fire inferno. But I can still remember the distinct grip of fear on my throat. The taste of its pervasive bitterness and the cold stab the goes right to the core of you.
The irony of it all is that if I had quieted my heart and listened to the prayers my parents poured over me each night, I would have been reminded of the protection of God, of his purpose and power and intentional involvement in our lives. How he has our heart in his hands and trusting him is never a mistake and will only bring us further into light and hope.
Now, in my 20’s and having been through many twists and turns in my life (some of them very painful) I often recite to myself a favorite verse that reaffirms for me that the Lord is present in my life and he is the one I put my trust in: “I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for.” Jeremiah 29:11
This story from the Bible is found in the book of Daniel. It takes place in Babylon where the people of Israel had been brought from Jerusalem into captivity. Daniel has risen to a prominent position with the king because of his wisdom and skill. You’ll see in this account that though Daniel is threatened with an excruciating death, he never allows fear to grip him. Instead he trusts in God. He had no control over his external, physical situation, but he did have complete control over his faith and confidence in the Lord. In fact, by holding solidly to these and trusting God with the outcome, he, the king, and all the other court officials saw God display his control. Ultimately it led to the king and others worshiping God. Daniel’s attitude and action can give us a strategy to use when we feel fear gripping our hearts.
I know that I can trust you. You care about my family and me and you see my fear. Help me to trust you and every day better understand what it means to place my faith and confidence in you. Sometimes this fear grips me so tightly I can’t escape it. Hear me when I call out to you and rescue me! I can’t do this without your help. Thank you for loving me.
Spend some time reading the Scriptures and talking with God about your fear of losing your parent. Use this time to try and understand and experience the Lord’s love for you. Then after you have spent some time meditating on God’s love, take a few minutes and write a letter to one or both of your parents expressing your love for them. Give it to them to take with them on their next deployment or another appropriate time.
If you need help with where to start in the Bible, take a look at 1 John 4:7-12:
The Bible talks about all sorts of fear. Sometimes it is used in a positive sense, like a reverent fear of God and his power; however, if you immerse yourself in the Scriptures it becomes evident that love always trumps fear. God’s desire for us to reverently fear his love is infinitely bigger than his desire for us to fear him.
Try taking this quiz to see what you know so far about the other kinds of fear in the Bible:
Take a look at this clip from We Were Soldiers. Its after the soldiers undergo the first few skirmishes and suffer quite a few more deaths than they anticipated. Consider as you watch who you identify with in the scene. Perhaps take some time to write, draw, or pray about how this clip relates (or doesn’t) to the fear you experience.
Many artists have been inspired by the story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den. Take a look at the two pictures linked to here and then spend some time reflecting on what you think this situation would have been like in real life. Place yourself there and consider what emotions you are experiencing and what sort of things you would have spoken to God about, thought, or done during your night in the lion’s den. Pray for God to show you how to have a faith like Daniel’s when you encounter fear.
Peter Paul Rubens’:
For a laugh at fear check out this video: