Fear can be really good at sneak attacks … and my present situation apparently had me more vulnerable than I realized.
In April of this year, my wife gave birth to our first child, a gorgeous little girl. About a month later, she let her employer know she would not be returning to work. 1 Timothy 5:8 says, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for the members of his immediate household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever,” so I understood it to be my responsibility to do whatever had to be done to take care of Aimee and Rosie. I started looking for early-morning and overnight part-time jobs and, by God’s grace, found one pretty quickly. I’m now working my full-time day job, and I also have an overnight, part-time position where I work about 24 hours a week. It’s not the easiest situation in the world, but it is a joyous situation because I know I’m doing what my Father and my Lord want me to do: I’m modeling Jesus by providing for my family. However, I’m also feeling the weight of my responsibilities as a husband and father more keenly than I’ve ever felt them before. I’m the sole provider; both my wife and my daughter and relying on me to meet their needs—even if my little girl doesn’t understand this yet. And so I need to do what I can to ensure my wife and daughter’s needs are met for the day, while also doing what I can to provide retirement funds for my wife and college funds for my daughter. These are weighty responsibilities. Additionally, the longer this situation lasts, the more I miss my wife and little girl when I leave for my part-time job, and I have no desire for this particular situation to last any longer than it must; rather than needing to be to work by 9 PM, I’d much rather be home to enjoy my family more.
In the midst of this situation, I’ve had the opportunity to interview for two different jobs: a Bible college librarian position, and a call center representative position with an insurance company in Cleveland. I thought the Bible college position would be perfect for me, but God apparently had other ideas, as it went to someone else. The call center position wouldn’t have been perfect for me, but I thought it might lead to a “perfect” position; God apparently disagreed with this also because both the Holy Spirit and my gut cautioned me against taking it when the recruiter called to offer me the position. Currently, I’m working on honing my writing craft as I pursue what I believe to be God’s promise to me: a writing-related career if I will write for him. But needless to say, finding time to write can be difficult these days.
So, I’m in a place where I’m keenly aware of my responsibilities as husband and father, our finances make it difficult to reach Dave Ramsey’s recommended Emergency Fund level before we start saving more for retirement and college, my current work situation/home life balance is difficult, and I don’t yet have any published articles that could lead to a writing career.
Is it any wonder Fear took a swipe at me the other night?
I was eating lunch at my part-time job when Fear attacked. I wasn’t really paying any attention to my thoughts, and before I knew it, I was doing exactly what Jesus tells us not to do: I was “thinking” (read: worrying) about tomorrow—making sure Aimee’s needs are met, making sure Rosie has a college fund, wondering how long I’d need to maintain the overnight job. Fear seized on these thoughts and started pummeling me with questions:
How do you know God really promised you a writing-related career?
Do you really think you’re going to be able to provide for your daughter’s college education?
You do realize your wife won’t have much to look forward to her in old age, don’t you?
How do you know you aren’t going to be stuck in this situation the rest of your life?
Oh, yes: Fear does know how to attack!
Fortunately, the Holy Spirit stepped in at that moment and reminded me of Jesus’ teaching: “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). The Spirit then reminded me of Paul’s teaching from Philippians 4:6-7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in all things, through prayer and petition and with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts in Christ Jesus.” Finally, Peter himself taught, “Cast your cares on the Lord, for he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
Immediately, I began praying. I let God know my every anxiety about taking care of my wife, providing for my daughter, the writing-related career, etc. Another of Jesus’ teachings came to mind immediately: “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided” (Matthew 6:33), and peace flooded my spirit.
Then, something really amazing happened: God winked at me. As I was enjoying the Holy Spirit’s peace, something about the song playing on the work radio caught my attention. After a moment of listening, I realized it was a Christian song! A CCM song over the work radio! I do not consider it a coincidence that a CCM song came over the work radio, and I will not know until heaven why God decided to give me the extra encouragement. But I’m not complaining!
Now, since the Bible says that God comforts us in our distress so that we may comfort others in theirs (2 Corinthians 1:4), I’m inclined to suspect that perhaps someone who reads (or will read) this blog may be going through some struggles also; maybe fear has found that vulnerability in your life that you didn’t even realize was there and has been hitting you hard. If so, I’m going to encourage you to look at the verses above (Philippians 4:6-7; 1 Peter 5:7), and I’m going to urge you to test God: see how loving he is. See how caring he is. Pour it all out: every anxiety, no matter how big, no matter how small: tell him. Get sick of it, and vomit it all out. And then watch as God works. Hopefully the story of my distress and comfort will bring you comfort from your distress also.
Oh, and before I forget, God winked at me again the other day: remember how I said I still haven’t gotten anything published? Well, I still don’t. But, an editor I queried about an article for her magazine let me know she wants to read the article! Granted, it may not get published. But considering God’s promise of a writing-related career and this being a Christian discipleship magazine, I can’t help but view it as another wink to let me know I’m on the right path.
Praise be to the God of all comfort!