Those early days of Bible study were nerve-racking for me. I sat in a circle of women who had been serious about God for a long time, some since their teens, some even during early childhood. I felt grossly ill-equipped to talk about God; I didn’t want to share that just a few years back I was making jokes about God and questioning his presence in my life. I didn’t deserve to be in this group. Mostly, I stayed quiet and listened.
We talked about our fears. My fears at that time centered on the loss of my children, of something happening to them that I couldn’t control. I feared abduction, disease, house fire, injury. I had nightmares about leaving my kids in the grocery store. I would wake up in the middle of the night to see if they were still there and hold my hand under their noses to make sure they were breathing.
As the years went by, my relationship with God grew and I spent more time learning about his gift of Jesus Christ and how I could stay close to him every day. I learned to pray about everything. I opened up in Bible study about what I thought about God and how he helps me. My understanding of his gift deepened. We still talked about our fears. I started to regularly cast my fears to God so he could take care of them for me. My fear of an unknown tragedy befalling my children still lingered, but it did not paralyze me.
All over the world, tragedies happen. Too often, they happen to children. Some are abused; others perish in fires; still others are lost to disease. And then some are shot and killed. I find that my fears about these things happening to my children resurface with each event that I hear about, some stronger than others. I give the fears to God anew. I pray for victims and their families. I pray for people who commit crimes against children.
It is easier for me to do this, I suppose; I am not a vengeful person. I have experienced tragedy in my life, and I know it does no good to dwell on what could have been prevented, nor hate people for what they do. I know that hate only serves to tear me down and tempts me to take the role of judge, a role which I am not qualified to take. Certainly people do terrible things, myself included.
It is also easier for me to pray for people who commit crimes against children because I have not lost my child to one of their crimes. They are not abused. They were not abducted. They go back and forth to school safely each day. My children sleep safely in their beds at night.
It scares me to think this. My fear tells me that those fears, the ones that I have so openly given to God, are exactly where the evil in this world will threaten me and attempt to break me down. The superstitious part of me, the one that still takes up space in my mind where God should be, tells me to hurry up and cover those fears with prayers.
But I am slowly learning that along with everything else in my life, my children are not mine. They are God’s, just as I am his. My trust that he has his hand in our lives and our larger world comforts me more than the fears have ever scared me. His everlasting love, the love that never fails, has surrounded me, and surrounds my children.
In a world of so much fear and tragedy, I am comforted by the fact that he is so good.
Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)