When I was a young boy, I was terrified of Halloween masks. The costumes didn’t bother me, but when they put the masks on, I was toast. So here’s how Halloween night played out at my house for a few years. The doorbell would ring, and I’d run to open it. I’d throw open the door to find kids in costume—with masks on. I would then proceed to scream bloody murder and burst into tears at the sight of the masks.
It didn’t matter whether it was a grotesque monster or a happy princess; I was terrified. I would immediately run to find my mom who would sweep me up into her arms and remind me, “Michael, I’m right here. There’s nothing to be afraid of.” Then she’d make me go to the door with her, where she would hand out candy, then ask the children to take off their masks for a moment. She’d say, “Son, I know the masks look scary, but they’re not real.” Then she would also remind me, “Next time the doorbell rings, don’t open it because there’ll be more. But, inevitably, the chimes would sound, and I’d race to the door. Then the squalling would again ensue. And she’d patiently take me through the ritual again. (Guess I wasn’t a very bright kid.)
You see, what my mom was doing to calm me was reminding me of her presence. In her arms I felt safe and protected. The masks were scary, but they were no match for her. Then she also reminded me of the truth of the situation. What I was seeing wasn’t that person’s true identity. It was a false face. When the masks were off and I could see the truth, I was fine.
In these past few months, we’ve certainly looked out our windows and seen some scary things—a global pandemic, civil unrest, a record hurricane season, and a tense election season. Perhaps the residual effects of some of those events have even showed up at your doorstep and invited themselves in—your job is in jeopardy, or your health is compromised. And there’s a good chance you’ve faced or are facing difficult circumstances unrelated to these other events.
Whatever the case, this season has unsettled you. You’ve found yourself at times uptight, doubtful, and afraid. And I hate to tell you this, but just because we flip the calendar, the scary things won’t stop. Whether it’s global, national, local, or personal, until Jesus comes, frightening things will continue to knock on our doors.
So what can we do? How do we as believers get through this season and beyond without our anxiety meters shooting through the roof? Without spending most of our time curled up in a ball wringing our hands? How can we live in confidence and peace?
Run to the Father.
Remember Our God
Let’s remember the God we know and serve. He reigns over all His creation, and nothing is out of His purview or control. Nothing catches Him by surprise. So even though our literal and figurative world seems out of control, it is not. God’s got this. We may not understand all of what’s happening, but God does. And His purpose will prevail. As God said in Isaiah 46:9-10: “Remember what happened long ago, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and no one is like me. I declare the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done, saying: my plan will take place, and I will do all my will.”
Remember He is good, He is with you, and He is for you. Paul told us in Romans 8 that we don’t have to be afraid because we’re His children, we get to call Him “Abba” (8:15-17). And in those moments when we’re so upset that we struggle to even know what or how to pray, the Spirit is praying for us (8:26). And in the end, regardless of what happens, we can be assured God is working all things out for our good (8:28).
Remember that we can cast all of our cares upon Him because He cares so deeply for us (1 Peter 5:7), that we have clear access to Him because of what Jesus has done for us so we can approach Him boldly and find help in our time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16), and that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6).
In His Presence There Is Peace
Of course, this list could go on and on. We could talk of His compassion, mercy, and faithful love. Of His power, wisdom, and gentleness. But the point is, when we turn to Him and place trust in Him we’re reminded of His strength, His character, and that whatever we face is no match for Him. In His presence there is peace.
And by His Word He reminds us of what is really true. You see, the enemy would have us believe God is not who He says He is, that all hope is lost, and that chaos is in control. But according to Scripture, that’s not real. God will unmask the terrors to show us the truth. He has us. He’s in charge. And there’s nothing to be afraid of.
I’m so thankful my mom was there those many years ago to protect me, assure me, and help me know the truth. (Because it might be pretty embarrassing now for a 60-year-old man to hide under the table crying when miniature versions of Elsa and Spiderman show up on Halloween.) And I’m eternally grateful to have a Father who loves me as He does and is the strong tower I can run to. Because of Him, I can walk in confidence and peace regardless of what comes knocking on my door.