Responding to Tragedy and Overcoming Fear

Today the first two counseling lectures I gave dealt with responding to tragedy and overcoming fear. Those subjects are certainly timely with these men. We had a lot of interaction about the great things that have come as a result of the quake as well as a frank discussion about how many of them would prefer not to be meeting in a concrete building.

We looked at Bible characters who were controlled by fear (ten Israelite spies, King Saul). I told them that having a plan for escaping the building if the earth starts shaking again is not sinful. I even have that route figured out. Fear becomes sinful when you love safety so much that you are hindered from doing what pleases God and what benefits His people. The trouble with the bad kind of fear is that it puts self-preservation on the throne.

Without reproducing two hours of content, I’ll throw in a brief synopsis of our talk on fear:

When I live in fear I rob God of His glory. Here are some examples:
·       When I am afraid of bad weather I miss the chance to delight in the power of God displays in nature.
·       When I am afraid of what others think of me I ignore what God’s opinion is and what changes He wants to make in me.
·       When I am afraid of sickness I not only risk making myself sicker from worry, I also ignore the fact that God might want to show His power in my weakness.
·       When fear of losing my investments or other economic security consumes me, I reveal a heart that finds its security in a substitute savior.
Suggested homework:
·     Make a list of the good (God-pleasing) activities you are avoiding because you are afraid. Be thorough. The size of the list may surprise you.
·     See your fear for what it is and confess it as an attempt at preserving self instead of glorifying God. It is a serving-two-masters matter. Repentance is in order.
·     Memorize Psalm 29:9-11 (or others: Psalm 23:5; 27:1; 34:9-10, 19; Proverbs 21:1; Matthew 10:28; 2 Corinthians 1:8-10; Hebrews 13:6; 2 Peter 2:9) and call the text to mind when you feel fear taking control.

Adventure report: The meals here are very good, but certainly a cultural experience. The Haitians typically eat (those who do eat) a larger noon meal. Our lunches have included things like chicken, lots of white rice, a very explosive cole slaw (habaneros), lettuce, tomatoes and fried bananas. Today with our chicken we had some sort of little beads like tapioca, but served like rice with beans in it. For breakfast we have had spaghetti and sandwiches and lots of mangoes (love those). Supper last night was a very tasty cream of wheat/farina/grits containing stalks of anise. The breakfast/supper thing is a little turned around, but I’m the guy who sometimes orders burgers or fries at Norske Nook on Wednesday mornings.

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