I know fear. I know earth-shattering, mind-spinning, gut-busting fear that comes in the blink of an eye, that overruns you with anxiety for everyone you know. I know what it means to have every single "worst nightmare" scenario race through your mind every time your husband leaves the house or your child is out of your sight. I know what it feels like to have life going along with everyone being "ok" and then the next moment, they are gone. I know it well.
Unfortunately, sudden death is a persistent friend of mine. I've met him time and again, and despite giving him the full breadth of my thoughts about him in no uncertain terms, he keeps showing up. Sorrow and suffering, it turns out, don't take direction from us. When they show up unannounced, all that seems permanent and concrete and never-failing can begin to shiver and quake and flip the world right on it's axis.
It's been said a few ways:
"Be anxious for nothing, but with prayer, and supplication, and THANKSGIVING..." Phillipians 4:13
"The answer to deep anxiety is the deep adoration of God. And the greatest gift we can give our great God is to let His love make us glad." - Ann Voskamp
"It is in the process of being worshiped that God communicates His presence to men." -CS Lewis
Worship casts out anxiety and fear. Worship reworks our grief, our uncertainty, our loneliness, our overwhelm to have a new face, a new name, a new purpose. Worship overwhelms us with His Presence where uncertainty is turned into certainty, where loneliness is conformed into fellowship, where grief is somehow skewed into joy. Worship opens the floodgates of God-focus and spins fear and oppression on it's head.
In the darkest moments of the grief that I've experienced, I've heard that still, small voice whisper "He is still good."
He is still good when the heart stops beating, when the red light is ran, when the scans come back as our worst nightmare, when another breath can't be brought forth from their broken bodies. He is still good when the race has been run, there's nowhere else to turn, and the hope that comes from the flesh is all spilled out.
He is still good because Jesus. Because of that baby, and the gift of HIS breath and HIS beating heart, and his eventually broken body- we have life, everlasting. When our bodies are broken and done and our flesh has given out, His flesh has already walked ahead of us into eternity.
So the secret recipe to turning fear upside down and squeezing it tight and pouring out hope instead? Jesus. Not just the head "knowing" that He existed, but the full knowing and feeling and absorbing and WORSHIPPING of his birth, his life, his death, and his resurrection. Worshipping a God who holds yesterday, today, and tomorrow in the palm of His unfailing, steady hand sends fear on his way.
Our bodies simply cannot house a weapon of Satan and unrelenting praise all at once. One casts out the other.
The war has already been won.
So as you weep upon the floor, paralyzed by the unknown, struggling to feel like you can/t walk out your front door again and face LIFE again- Praise Him. Sob. Praise. Sob. Praise. Sob. Praise.
Sorrow and suffering always leave room for praise and joy on our journey. Always. We just have to see and invite.
He will meet you there, in those depths.
Praise silences the lies of the enemies and brings life to dry bones.
"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts You." Isaiah 26:3