“So Ryan, did you hear the part I just played? It’s really important that this comes through. It’s one of the main songs in the musical, so you fellows really have a chance to shine. Could you follow your part?”
“I’m sorry. I couldn’t hear it over the sound of my own panic!”
I smiled at his comment, but it spoke volumes of the trepidation this young actor was feeling as a new member of our theatre group. It would be my job as the music director to calm his fears and show him he could succeed.
Sometimes we build up our own bravery beyond our actual ability to control our fear.
Sometimes we build up our own bravery beyond our actual ability to control our fear. Children shake in their shoes but claim they aren’t afraid of the scary things under their beds or in their closets. As adults, some of us have panic attacks we can’t overcome even though the perceived danger is all in our minds.
What do we do when we’re really afraid? Oh, not some imagination running wild with conjured up fears. No. Actual fears.
There may be uncertainties in the future of our business or organization or family situation. Losses can’t be replaced or restored. Financial issues, health worries, frayed relationships loom over us. Families are stretched to the point of breaking.
And then comes the advice: Reach into your inner strength! Eleanor Roosevelt was adamant in telling people, “You must do what you think you can’t do!”
You must do what you think you can’t do!
But when we are like Eliphaz who told Job, “Fear and trembling seized me and made all my bones shake,” that inner core of resolve melts away (Job 4:14).
The author of Lamentations reminds us we don’t have to be alone in this inability to cope: “You came near when I called you, and you said, ‘Do not fear!’” (Lamentations 3:57) When we forget to include Our Lord Jesus, we miss out on His assurances.
Why should we, why do we go to our Lord Jesus when we are afraid? So many hymns speak of this: “When every earthly prop gives way He then is all my Hope and Stay” (My Hope is Built on Nothing Less); “Who like Thyself my guide and stay can be?” (Abide with Me).
All these hymns use the word “stay,” which is seldom used in modern conversations. For many people this word conjures up the vision of corsets, those strips of whalebone covered and laced together to create immovable torsos. Those women’s bodies were supported, braced, stayed. Not meant to move, almost like a mannequin.
But the hymn writers weren’t writing about corsets. They took their meaning from Scriptures: “The Lord was my stay” (2 Samuel 22:19; Psalm 18:18 KJV). This is the Lord’s power to endure. The power He gives us so we can endure.
Other writers took a different meaning: “All my trust on Thee is stayed” (Jesus Lover of My Soul). Now we look to Isaiah, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee” (Isaiah 26:3 KJV). New versions speak of that mind being steadfast, committed, focused, dependent, firm, resolved, unchangeable, fixed, or dedicated.
No matter what the translation, it is clear that Our Lord Jesus is someone to trust, rely on, lean on, depend on. He will support us because of His power to endure.
Focusing on our fear won’t change it, can’t change the outcome. If our eyes are only on our fear, we miss out on our view to the Lord Jesus. The sound of our panic drowns out His voice
If we are relying on earthly props to support us in our fear, including trying to prop ourselves up with our resolve, we miss out.
What joy in the relief we feel when we turn it over to the Lord Jesus! He’s the One who promises to be our Stay. And even more, He promises to always stay with us.