Everyone experiences fear. Some people don't call it fear. Some call it anxiety or doubt, but it all boils down to plain old fear.
We're not born with the instinct to fight. We're born with the instinct to hide. With that in mind, let us look at Psalm 46:1 which says, "God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear."
The first thing that God promises to be to us is our refuge. What is a refuge? It's a hiding place. God, knowing our instinctive tendency to hide tells us in His loving way that it's all right to hide, and it's so all right that He promises to be our hiding place. In other words, when you feel overcome with fear, call upon God and you will feel His Presence, and in that Presence, you'll feel safer than you've ever felt before. Who wouldn't feel safe in the arms of the One who created the universe and all that's in it? So, when we experience fear, the first thing we do is what is at the base of our instinct. We hide, but we hide in the Presence of Almighty God.
But God doesn't stop by just being our hideout. Next, it says that He is our strength. As we grow, if we develop normally and our bodies begin to feel strength, we're less apt to hide when we're afraid. Well, when we are facing unknown fears, we have no strength with which we can feel confidence or any diminution of our fear. But God tells us that, while we hide in Him as a Refuge, He is also our strength. God allows us to hide, but He doesn't tolerate continual hiding. While we hide in Him, He begins to, not only increase our strength, but He becomes our strength. Before long, His strength makes us feel able to go back out and face our fears. We go in His strength. If we attempt to stand up to some things in our own strength, we'll be severely hurt. I can feel ever so strong, but if I face a dude that's 6 feet 8 and weighs 350 pounds, my sense of logic tells me that I need to depend on some strength other than what I possess.
Life offers us many circumstances, and they're just too big and scary for us to handle. That's where God comes in. He is Strength. Only He understands how He can do that, but He never fails to be Strength to anyone who has hidden in Him as a Refuge first. By just hiding in Him, it automatically makes us feel stronger. But, He infuses us with His divine strength, and that makes no foe that we face too formidable. If God's Power could create the universe out of just nothing, then what obstacle do we have that could give Him a problem?
Then, the Scripture continues by saying that He is a very present help in trouble. Now, I know what a help is. I even know what a present help is, but what in the world is a "very present help"? I mean, either the help is present or it's absent. Right? Well, I began to reflect on some rules of grammar and I remembered that the word "very" is in the comparative degree and could be substituted with the word "more". So, I replaced very with more and ended up with "a more present help in trouble. Now, how can you be more present? Well, since it is in the comparative degree, it is comparing it's closeness to something else. What else is there in that scripture? The only thing that I can see is trouble! That means that God is comparing help with trouble. In other words He is saying that He is more present than trouble. Breaking that down a little farther, He is simply saying that He is closer (more present) than trouble. No matter how close trouble comes to you, God has given us His promise that He'll be closer. When the three Hebrew children were thrown into the fiery furnace, instead of being burnt up, they were seen in the flames with Jesus, and they came out unharmed.
If you've experienced fear and then hidden in God's Presence, He not only gives you strength, He becomes your strength. Then He sends you back out to face your fear, but with one additional promise. He says that He'll be closer to us than whatever was making us afraid. So when you experience trouble and feel the natural anxiety (fear) that it produces, just hide in God's Presence, receive Him as your Strength, and then go back out and face your problem with the assurance that He is closer to you than that problem. Therefore, as the Psalmist said, shall not we fear. It's not bad to fear, but it's a shame to live in fear. God has given us a tremendous solution. If we rely upon Him, we have freedom from fear. And, what devil is going to pick on you when your strength isn't in your muscles or your brains, but in the Living God?
Now, we as GLBT Christians face enmity from more than one front. Our most obvious adversary is the Evangelical Religious Right who make no bones about their assurance that our destiny is Hell. Then, we tell them that, although we're homosexual, we're born again, they assure us that we're not only confused, but we're still headed straight for Hell. Then, we have our fellow homosexuals who haven't accepted Jesus as their Savior, and they mock us and think that we're fanatical. They don't care to be around us.
Finally, the most dangerous element we have to deal with is the reality of those who would injure or kill us simply because they hate us. They don't understand how that people can be perfectly natural and be in love with someone of the same sex, so they write us off as trash and decide to exterminate us.
Probably, we could come up with other examples of what we have as special fears peculiar to GLBT Christians, but as we examine these examples, we must admit that we have a tendency to tremble or else we try to figure it all out. When we're tempted to tremble, we must hide in the Presence of God. When we feel that we must figure it all out, that's when we must allow God to be our Strength. That Strength has promised to make a way where there is no way. That Strength in the only dependability that we have. No one else loves us, understands us, or protects us. We, as GLBT Christians, need to maintain God as our Refuge and Strength and allow Him to be the very present Help in any trouble we may encounter. Therefore, as the Psalmist said, we just won't fear! Praise God! We can live a life free from fear because of the great provisions of a wonderful God.
Copyright © 2001 by the author
All Rights Reserved
Henri J. M. Nouwen
John J. Kirvan
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