A Life Unafraid

This post was written by my 13 year old daughter, Karis Elizabeth Cooper.

Have you ever felt scared of the future? If this at all describes you, I hope this article encourages you and reminds you of how God works in wonderful ways.

This past summer, I was reading over the book of Job. I read as Job’s life was torn apart, and I was terrified that something like that would happen to me — that my life would be torn apart.

Then, one Friday night in late August, our family was thrust into a fiery trial, and God reminded me with His sovereignty.

My little eleven year old brother was at the park, playing football with some friends. My mom asked me to go tell him it was time for dinner, so I walked over to the park to bring him home. One of the boys had left his keys inside the pool area of our neighborhood clubhouse. The gate was locked, but my brother said he would help him get his keys. The pool area is surrounded by a wrought-iron fence…and my brother attempted to climb it.

It all happened so fast. But it was like it was in slow-motion as I watched it all unfold.

I will never forget the horror I felt when I saw my brother fall.

His shoe was wet; he slipped, and he was immediately impaled on the arrow point of the wrought-iron fence. My brother was screaming, in searing pain – entirely helpless. My parents rushed him to the ER where the doctors discovered that he had perforated his colon. Our family was entirely dependent on the Lord. The next few months were some of the hardest in my life.

It was exactly the thing I was the most scared of.

But, God used that fear of mine to draw me even closer to Him. I was drawn to His Word. I could feel Him embracing me as His child, and I was leaning on His love as someone who needed Him desperately.

I was weak. I was dependent.

While that may sound terrifying to you, as it did to me, I want to assure you when you suffer, you are not alone. In her book Kisses From Katie, Katie Davis says that she learned that “the powerless, broken, dependent place was actually the place where God was closest.” Yes! God is close to those who call to Him, and he will not over look you.

One of my favorite Bible stories is when Jesus and His disciples go out for a boat ride and Jesus falls asleep. When the storms come, the disciples cry out to Jesus, and He answers them. He asks them why they are afraid – he was always there. Then, he says a couple of words, and the storm becomes silent.

Like the disciples, we are trying to follow the Lord, but there are moments that the storms are raging, and we are anxious for God to come stop it. Moments when we forget God is right beside us.

But you know what God does when we cry out to Him?

He calms the sea.

In Proverbs, it speaks of a woman who is clothed in strength and dignity and laughs with no fear of the future (Proverbs 31:25).

I want to be that kind of woman. I want to laugh without any fear of the days to come. And I can, because on that day of judgment, I know that there is a righteous and holy Savior who lived a perfect life and died a substitutionary death for every one of my sins, so that I could be blameless before the Lord of the heavens.

Jesus died for us. He had a plan for each and every one of us before the beginning; a plan wonderfully, gloriously, awesomely, and fearfully crafted specifically for you. Our God is in control of every second of our lives, so we can live a life unafraid. Even in our suffering, He will be with us.

So, if you are at all afraid, rest assured that our God is bigger and stronger than anything that could ever come against us. He is with us. He is the Solid Rock on which we stand, our firm Cornerstone.

Never Alone

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Heb. 13:5

We waited to hear from Mr. Yung. A serene man in his seventies, he had been confined to the cruelest of solitary confinement for two years for his faith in Jesus Christ. Locked in a tiny cell without light, with no contact with visitors or other inmates, Mr. Yung sat day after day, week after week, month after month for two years in total darkness (Except for brief and rare walks outside). Who wouldn’t want to hear what he learned about life, death, fear, faith and suffering as he languished in cramped darkness for two years?

Looking Up

When the moderator asked him what he had learned, Mr. Yung simply stated, “This is what I learned. I learned that Jesus is always with me.”

That’s it? Two years of inhumane treatment, both physically and psychologically, and what you learned was, “Jesus is always with me”?

The moderator rephrased the question, thinking he could coax a bit more from Mr. Yung.

He replied, “That Jesus is always with me is what I learned. He was with me when I was hungry. He was with me when I was cold. He was with me when I was hot and delirious. He was with me when I was afraid for my family. He was with me when I was sick. He was with me when I was beaten. He was with me when I was hopeless. He was with me when I was confused. Jesus was with me when I was sure I was dying. Jesus was always with me. Jesus IS always with me. That is what I learned.”

Christians rightfully focus on what the Lord has done for us. Yet Mr. Yung’s rather anticlimactic reply to the question was actually a most profound one. The knowledge that Jesus is always with us is equally necessary to walk whatever walk the Lord has prescribed for us. Jesus for us and Jesus in us. These are the two truths that help Christians put one foot in front of another, day by day, regardless of what our darkness consists of.

Do YOU believe this?

Ponder for a moment that Jesus who died on the cross for your sins is also present in your life, closer than a shadow and more intimate than a breath. He is with you right now, in your heart and soul. Your ever faithful friend, “Jesus is always with you”. Jesus is with you when you wonder if you have the strength to make it through work one more day. Jesus is with you when you fear the path your child has taken might ruin their lives. Jesus is with you when you drive to AND from your doctor’s appointment. Jesus is with you when you sit down in front of your computer. Jesus is with you when you think there is no other solution to your marriage than to end it. Jesus is with you when your boss says your position has been replaced by a teenager working in a call center in Malaysia. Jesus is with you when the doctor takes your child and says, “we will see you in five hours.” Jesus is with you when you review your life and wonder, “how did I wind up here?” Jesus is with you when your temptations attack you with the fierceness of the Orcs on Frodo. Jesus is with you when you feel the outcome of your life has been shaped by the choices of others. Jesus is with you when you have nothing but darkness surrounding you. JESUS IS ALWAYS WITH YOU.

There is great power and strength that comes from reflecting on what Jesus has done for us. AND, there is great power that comes from reflecting on Jesus in us. Moment by moment, his spirit in us, comforting, challenging, directing, warning, empowering, consoling and emboldening us.

He is with me, even to the end of the age.

He will never leave me nor forsake me.

United to a living Christ, living in and through me now. If you are a Christian, that is your testimony.

This instant, in the midst of your scrambled thinking, your fractured friendships, your uncertain future, Mr. Yung’s testimony is true of you. “Jesus is always with me.” The one who for hours was THE MOST alone person who ever trod this dusty orb says to you right now, I will never leave you. I am with you. I am in you. Moment by moment, event by event, trial by trial, temptation by temptation, step by step, you are not left to your own strength. You are not left to wield the sword alone. I am ALWAYS with you.

So, weak one. Remember, your weakness is to direct your attention to the strong one. Jesus, who is always with you, living in you by His Spirit. The next step? No one knows. Who will be with you when you take it? You do know, because if you have learned anything from Mr. Yung, it is this, “Jesus is always with me”

This post was written by Steve Shank. Steve has served in pastoral ministry for over 30 years and is the author of First Steps of Faith.

What Does Trust In God Look Like Practically?

“Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:8)

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The idea of trusting God can be somewhat etherial and mystical, but this verse puts “feet” to our trust in God. It shows us what trusting God looks like practically. That’s why it’s one of my favorite verses in the Psalms. I’ll explain.

We see here very clearly that one way our trust in God is practically expressed is through prayer. Let’s look at the verse together.

The first line of Psalm 62:8 reads “Trust in him at all times, O people.” So, in this verse, the psalmist is obviously speaking about trusting God. That’s the main idea. The exhortation is to trust in the LORD.

But notice how the psalmist expands on the first line as he moves to the second line: “pour out your heart before him.” This line is obviously speaking about prayer. So, the idea of the first exhortation being expanded by the second is that one way trusting in God is expressed is through prayer.

The third line, then, expands on the first and the second with this truth: “God is a refuge for us.” So, if we want to know what trust in God looks like practically, here it is:

Prayer is an active, practical way in which we as believers put our trust in God and take refuge in Him.

The Realness of Believing Prayer

What encourages me the most about this verse, though, is how the Lord encourages us to be real with him:

“Pour out your heart before him.”

If you pour something out, sometimes it’s because you’re wanting to get rid of it, right? (Think of pouring old milk out into the sink). And if you spill something, it can be messy. At other times, pouring something out can be because the fragrance is pleasing to us or helpful in some way (think of pouring aromatic essential oils out into a container to fill a room with fragrance).

Isn’t it encouraging to think that God invites us, through the psalmist’s exhortation, to pour out our hearts before him?

This means that we can come to God with anything and everything and lay it all before him through open and honest prayer. We can cast our burdens on him; we can tell him all our troubles; we can confess to him all of our sins; we can express all our concerns; we can communicate all our cares; and we can pour out all the good and the bad stored up in our hearts to the One who can handle it all and who can help us.

God welcomes us to be real with him. What a kindness! What a grace!

In fact, this type of realness, this pouring out of our hearts, is how we practically express our trust in him. I don’t know about you, but this verse moves prayer out of the chore list and onto the joy list for me; it encourages me to pray.

Converse with the Lord as you would the best of friends.

What joys and victories, temptations and struggles, anxieties and difficulties, are you facing today? Tell it all to the Lord in open and honest prayer and watch what he can do for you. “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts before him, for God is a refuge for us”.