This is the final episode of my series on fear. I’m very honored to host a fantastic testimony by Jayna Coppedge, who shares how her faith in God helps her endure fear. Please welcome her and write a comment to her.
“I have been following the news this week and praying for your daughter. I guess you are praying she will be moved out of there.”
“Thank you, so much for praying for her. Your prayers are probably one of the reasons Steve and I have no fears or worries about her. Although we do pray for her protection, we also pray she can stay.”
I am the second person in the dialogue. I have this conversation numerous times a week, especially now that the United States is sending in air strikes to fight terrorism. For security reasons, I must be vague. My single 29 year-old daughter serves with a faith-based organization in a country where tanks and soldiers with machine guns are normal. Following God’s call, she disciples national believers, explains the gospel in Arabic to the persons with whom she has a relationship, and meets the needs of the refugees that have flooded her country.
This story, though, is not about the young woman. This story is about the God who supplies peace beyond human understanding to me, her mother. Even though believers are martyred in my daughter’s country, I am not fearful.
To understand the magnitude of the miracle, I must give you some history. When I was in seventh grade, my mother worried over my safety so much, she insisted that I carried mace. By the time I was 21, my mother convinced me that I would be a crime statistic. On the nights my husband traveled, I was certain would be attacked if I slept. I laid in bed, clutching a brass candlestick, and reciting every Bible verse I knew. This was the early 1980’s, there were no cell phones, so when he was late coming home, I concluded that he was dead. Fear was my constant companion.
I was always aware of God; salvation came to me very naturally in first grade. Active in my church, I chose a career in the church. Although a minister, I did not believe unconditional love, joy or peace were possible before heaven. Studying diligently, I could teach about God’s love, but I did not feel loved. Satan took all the sermons and examples of God giving peace in the midst of suffering; then rearranged the words to say, “If you trust Jesus, God will make you pay your dues by causing you to suffer”.
God healed my distorted viewpoint.
Once I experienced unconditional love from my husband, I began to feel safe. However, I needed guidance from a Christian psychologist for my heart to heal. When I truly felt loved and accepted by God, my life became enjoyable. God was transforming me from someone scared of her shadow into woman who seldom ever worries.
My next developmental task came a few years later. I realized that I did not know how to love God. I began to pray, “Teach me to love you.” One change I made was to stop reading the Bible as a life manual. Instead, I read asking God to show me His character. I spent more time listening to God when I prayed. My time in Bible study and prayer was no longer a duty, but an expression of joy.
I prayed that God would make me thirsty for Him. He answered my prayer by guiding me to spend more leisure time with Him. Occasionally I would carve out an hour or two without media or interruption. I thought of it as just hanging out with God. Together, we might read the Bible, sing through the hymnbook, or go for a walk. I did not feel God’s presence every time, but I did it anyway. I focused on Him without expecting anything in return. I was saying in affect, “God you decide what happens today.” It worked; I fell in love with God.
“Rejoice in as much as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:13
When you love someone, you trust him or her. The more I love God, the more I trust him, and the more I trust Him, the less I worry. 1 John 4:18 is true “perfect love does cast out fear.” I now trust God’s character.
I am not naïve. God has not promised me that my daughter will be unharmed. He promises to redeem suffering for my benefit and His glory. In Acts 7, Stephen’s blood serves as a conduit to Paul’s heart. Who am I to tell God how to change the hearts of those my daughter loves?
I am also logical. There is no correlation between how much sleep I lose and how safe my daughter will be. The tears I shed in worry will not lessen the tears I will shed should I grieve. If my daughter is harmed, God’s grace will sustain me.
Yes, I miss her. Yes, I weep when I want to touch her and I cannot. Yes, I am disappointed when technology is not working and we cannot text or talk. I am grateful for the times when I can go to her country and for the visits she makes home.
God’s faithfulness, mercy, and unconditional love supply me with peace and joy, regardless of circumstances. Only God, who delights in me, knows my future. He knows what ultimately benefits my family and me. I am a woman trusting God.
How has your faith helped you endure fears? Share in the comments.
The voice behind this vulnerable post is Jayna Coppedge. Jayna also has an adult son that she does not get to see often enough. Read Jayna’s blog “A Woman Trusting God” at www.jaynac.com. As a speaker, Jayna incorporates her training in different learning styles to keep the audience engaged. Invite her to your retreat or parenting conferences. Since serving as a children’s minister for 24 years, Jayna enjoys writing curriculum and training teachers. Currently she is writing a book that melds brain research with the biblical mandate to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.