for when you are afraid.

i’m an ISFJ.  i’ve probably told you that before.  i know myself, and i know myself well – emotions and feelings and all.  i have to talk things out and “talk” myself to the right conclusion about issues.  i can put my finger on how i’m feeling, and why i’m feeling that way, almost instantly.  i’m a creature of habit.  i watch the same shows, eat the same meals, shop at the same grocery stores (and take the same path in said grocery stores as my mother) and use the same machines at the Y.

i’m predictable.  i like comfort.  i like my feelings. but one thing that an ISFJ like me struggles with, probably the most…is the unknown.  and fear.  and not knowing, and not being in control.  i can say this because i’m an ISFJ.

i’ve been reading a lot of Isaiah these days.  partially, because i took a class on Isaiah this spring and it fascinated me.  partially because the small group i meet with weekly is walking through Isaiah.  and partially just because i really love the book, with all its complexity and difficulty and history and beauty.  it’s so…beautiful.  i mean, really…it is.

re-reading Isaiah 7-11, i’m struck by how much I have in common with King Ahaz. i mean, well, really, i probably don’t have that much in common, but…King Ahaz was a fearful guy.  and he probably had some reasons to be scared, logistically.  the northern kingdom aligned with syria, and they came down, plotting to attack the south.  Isaiah records that “the heart of ahaz and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind” (7:2).  yet Isaiah is called to go and encourage Ahaz to stand strong, “to not let your heart be faint” (7:4) and to call him to trust in the Lord rather than alliances, riches, foreign power, wealth, and even his own strength.

there’s more to the story than this, obviously, but the connection that i made in my own head was that so often, i am so afraid.  i had a friend one time tell me that i live in fear.  sometimes, i believe it.  i map out a million ways that things can go wrong.  i imagine all of the really bad and terrible things that could happen if i choose decision A, or if this doesn’t come through, or if this happens.

i know the truth is that most of the things we fear don’t ever come to pass – but i guess the point of my thought is bigger than that.  isaiah reminded ahaz not to trust in himself, or even in others, but in the Lord – despite the circumstances.  lately, i think i’m learning the same lesson.  things look bleak and scary some days, and when i gaze out into the unknown, i absolutely cannot see what is next.

that’s scary for me.  i’m a controller by nature.  i like order, and predictability, and knowing what is next.  and being unsure of what is next is, by nature, a reason for me to fear.  but then i look back and i remember that i’ve never been in control, really.  i may have given myself the illusion of control, with all of my plans and dreams and five-year maps, but at the end of the day, the Lord has always been in control.  not me.

what a reminder to help displace my fear, when i am afraid.  that He is in control.  that he is sure, and steadfast, and that in him i find eternal comfort and peace.  that he, the giver of all good things, is sovereignly holding my life, and all the people i love, in his hands.  that i should trust in him, more than myself or my own insignificant abilities.  that i should not be afraid, because i know the one who has written all of my days for me, even before i took a breath…even if i don’t know what’s ahead in those days.

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