We recently had a Clergy Appreciation breakfast where I received a stone cross that bore the scripture, “Do not be afraid or discouraged for the Lord your God is with you always...” (Joshua 1:9). Those are beautiful words of reassurance inspired by God. I find myself needing them from time to time. It is easy to become discouraged, to lose confidence, to grow timid in the face of difficulty and stress. There are many sources of conflict and pressure that add to anxiety and stress. Sometimes life just throws stuff at you that you cannot control, and you must find a way to deal with situations not of your choosing, out of your comfort zone, or something for which you are not prepared. Why should we think that this great world we find ourselves in should meet our expectations or go the way we planned?
Life has a way of testing us with surprises and bends in the road that are unexpected. But then we are reminded by God not to get discouraged, to keep the faith, and to believe that all will be well. If God is at our side, then we should not be afraid or discouraged. Even though our feelings don’t often listen to our brain! Let this truth sink in. God is with us always, even to the end of time. Let us be reassured that darkness will be followed by light. The candle of God’s love extends even to the coldest night. We are not alone. God’s spirit is upon us even when we feel alone and afraid. That is the best time for a simple prayer asking for comfort and reassurance. “God be with me in my time of trial and struggle. Do not leave me alone.” Take a breath and breathe in His presence.