Today we have the privilege of sharing the conclusion of Dana Yeakley’s post. If you haven’t had the chance to read the first part, just follow this link.
Twenty-two years later in 2017 our 40-year-old son, Michael, while on a bike ride in a mountain park five minutes from our house, died of a heart attack. At the news, my whole body felt like it had been purged of life. As Tom and I got in the car to drive over to the park, God reminded me that I had memorized those verses for such a time as this. So as we were on our way to spend our last moments with our son’s body, I quoted Ps 34:1-3 out loud and then together we prayed. These were not mere activities. They were spiritual lifelines locking my heart to God’s for what I was about to face.
The strength of God began to fill my lifeless heart as we stepped out of our car to climb the hill to be with Michael. Michael’s body was surrounded by his wife, two sons and in-laws. As we sat down in the circle around him my heart was absolutely filled with pain. Simultaneously my spirit was filled with the awareness that Christ was present. This was the most agonizing experience I have ever endured. It was NOT easy. BUT, Christ in me urged my spirit to recognize that I can bless the Lord as I experience my worst fear happening. Indeed, God’s calm filled my spirit. God’s calm settled in me. His calm helped me that night and the days and weeks ahead to fall on Him.
The strength Christ offers is not loud or commanding. It is quiet, still and remarkably peaceful. To rejoice that Michael had been ushered into Christ’s eternal kingdom and that he was now present with Jesus, yes, was a foreign experience, but it was also one that was full of God’s peace and unwavering calm.
Most of the time when we walk through tragic difficulties, we want to change the circumstances. But God faithfully changes us! And as He does, we get to know Him more intimately, and we grow more confident in Him. We find that we are being prepared to face further difficulties in our future with a calm sustaining faith.
As we spend days and weeks at home during this time of pandemic, I invite you to know the sufficiency and strength that Christ offers. If you are buried in panic or fear, or if anxiety reaches out and grabs your being during your day, you can find refuge in Christ. He is our strong tower. He is the God of sufficiency and strength.
Perhaps God is reaching into one of your BIG fears and saying to you, “Now is the time to grow up in this matter.”
What will you decide to do? Will you choose the loving arms of Christ in this matter or will you run, hide, avoid or ignore Him as He speaks into and over your deeper needs?
Yes, this growth is painful. Yes, this growth takes work to let God be God.
Ultimately, you will be strengthened and therefore stronger. You will be able to stand and not collapse into self-centered fear and pity.
May Christ meet you in your fear, anxiety, or panic today. No more collapse for you. You will stand in Him. You will stand in Him and help others to stand in Him, also!
So, HOW DO WE DO THIS?
1. Name it! When we are being haunted or chased down with fear, anxiety or depression we must name it. Identify what is true about you and this emotion, “I am full of fear. This fear wants to control me, capture me and torture me. I refuse to give way to fear.” Name it; call it ‘fear.’ (Or anxiety or depression….)
2. Give it to Christ. After we call it what it is, we rally around the truth that says this emotion goes against God’s goodness towards us. We say “I do not give power to this fear. Rather I choose to rest upon Christ and his love for me. I give this fear to Him.”
In Lamentations 3:21-24 the prophet Jeremiah is speaking:
21 But this I call to mind,
Therefore I have hope.
22 It is because of the Lord’s lovingkindness that we are not consumed,
Because His [tender] compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
Great and beyond measure is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion and my inheritance,” says my soul;
“Therefore I have hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him.”
3. We keep our minds upon Christ. Note how Jeremiah takes control of what he is thinking about as he faces difficulty in verse 21 above. Like Jeremiah we can focus our minds upon Christ. Like him, we can recall to our hearts and minds that God is kind and compassionate in the situation that we are fearful about.
4. Know that God wants you to relate intimately to Him. The ultimate end of this process is that God wants to have a deep abiding intimate relationship with us. He wants to be our all. Like Jeremiah in verse 24 above states, “The Lord is my portion and my inheritance…” Jeremiah’s thought process brings him to the faith statement that God is his everything.
5. Expect God to Help you. As Jeremiah recognizes God is his portion, he can then say, “therefore I have hope and wait expectantly for him.” God is faithful to fill the void of fear. We give Him the fear (or devastating emotion that wants to control us) and He comes to us and helps us. This builds true hope in us!
6. Live a life of hope. As we grow in recognizing that God is our portion and that He will help us no matter what, then our soul grows in true hope. We learn that God, whether in a pandemic or tragic loss or unexpected bad news, will move toward us in loving-kindness, fill the tragic circumstances with Himself and true hope.
In the past few months several women have said to me things like, “You are so comfortable in your own skin,” or “you are a strong capable woman.” It is interesting to me that I appear this way. But I would like to set the record straight: I am not a strong woman; I am a woman who has learned to rely upon Christ’s strength. I have learned that He will never leave me or forsake me. It is Christ in me that rallies me forward to live life intimately abiding in Him.
As humans we are finite and sinful, but we are not alone. As believers we have access to the One who loves us deeply. When we face circumstances that stir up unhealthy emotions that want to control us, we can run to Christ and let Him take charge, grow us and be our everything! God says:
So do not fear, for I am with you;Isaiah 41:10
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.
For eleven years Dana and her family lived and served as missionaries in the country of Indonesia. After returning from Indonesia, Dana served on a variety of leadership teams with The Navigators. She has written two books on making disciples. Her passion is to know Christ and to make Him known.
Dana has been married to Tom for 47 years. They have three children and eight grandchildren. They have been on Navigator staff for 40+ years. Currently they serve as Staff Equippers for young emerging staff leaders in the U.S. Collegiate work.