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When Life Is Scary, God is God!

Today's Bible Memory Buddy is Hopper, a hoopoe bird. Hooper's head feathers stick straight up and out, reminiscent of our hair standing on end when we're scared. Children will learn today that God is with us, even when we are scared. Hooper helps drive that point home in a way children can remember.

My husband is one of those people who think when a storm warning comes on the TV it's time to go outside and look around. But I've always been frightened of storms. I recall a childhood experience with a tornado warning. In this particular instance, my parents were watching the forecast upstairs, but they sent my brother and me to the basement to hide under the stairwell until the warning passed. I was in tears I was so scared. My brother, Patrick, tried to comfort me. I suggested to him that I might be more comforted if he'd retrieve my favorite doll, Kimberly Kay, from my bed. Being a brave, albeit younger brother, he marched upstairs and grabbed my doll and swiftly returned to our shelter. By that time, I had thought of another stuffed animal that might bring me comfort. Patrick diligently trotted back upstairs to retrieve whatever had come to mind that might comfort me. This happened over and over again until the stairway was full of stuffed treasures and my parents finally noticed Pat going in and out of the basement! By that time, the storm warning had passed and everyone returned to their proper place. All the while my parents were chuckling ar my childish attempt to ease my fears.

Today's memory verse comes from perhaps the most famous passage in the Bible about God's presence in our times of fear. It is Psalm 23:4, "Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me." This Psalm has grown to have a deeper meaning to me as I have faced some of the darkest valleys of my life so far. I have learned to draw on the metaphors of comfort and trust God to walk beside me. He has prepared so many tables for me by putting just the right person in my path to share a word of comfort or even a stranger to offer a prayer at a time of great fear. There is so much power in learning to trust God in fearful times. There is no promise that we won't have fears or even that our fears won't be real. But there is the promise that the loving shepherd won't abandon the flock and has even prepared to walk with us, protect us, and lead us to place of rest.

I have a friend (whom I will call Jane to protect the privacy of the individuals in this story) who has been hired to stay with an elderly woman while she is in the hospital. The woman is not expected to live more than a week or two. One evening when Jane arrived to care for this lady, she was experiencing a lot of fear. She was afraid to go to sleep for fear she would not wake up again. She was afraid that she might be alone when she died. Jane did her best to comfort her. In their conversation, the two women discovered that they had both grown up in preacher's homes. The two women shared childhood memories of life lessons they had learned in homes of faithful church attendance and parents who taught them to trust God. The elderly woman had not gone to church in a number of years and had fallen away from trusting the Good Shepherd in times of stress. After a few minutes of silence, the elderly woman asked Jane if she would pray with her. So Jane took the woman's hand, bowed her head, and waited for her to pray. After a few minutes, the woman said in tears, "Jane, I think it would be best if you prayed." So Jane prayed for her, for the family members who were also worried and fearful. She thanked God for the provision made by training the doctors and nurses who were administering the tender end of life care. Then Jane suggested that they might listen to some instrumental hymns she had on her phone. The patient laughed and sang loudly as she recognized first one hymn after another from long-ago experiences. As Jane prepared to leave, at the end of her shift, the woman took her hand again. She said, "Jane, you have no idea how much comfort and peace you have brought me tonight." 

God prepared the table in the presence of the enemy that evening. It was not a coincidence that Jane was hired to care for this woman. God placed them together because of their common background. Jane listened to the Holy Spirit and provided the hands, feet, and voice for Jesus' love to provide the peace and comfort that was needed.

We can depend on God to be with us when we are afraid. Your children can too. Help reinforce this VBS lesson, by looking for times to share your own fears with them and how you trust God to provide peace and encouragement. Remind them to pray when they are afraid. Use Hooper to help reinforce this lesson. Ask about the Bible story and how the Israelites trusted God in a time of great fear. Remember that when Life is scary, God IS good.

Posted by Janet Hill at 9:03 AM
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