Fear, God, Life, Trials

Worries: Perspective on Fear

Snowflake on red

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Snowflakes leave me in awe. So small, yet so incredibly beautiful. Crafted so that each one has intrinsic similarities and yet are absolutely unique. As winter snows visit our little corner of the country, I find myself gazing out windows as snow falls quiet. Steady.

I’m reading The Hardest Peace, by Kara Tippetts. This book shares her story—of her life, her cancer journey—and the beautiful, deep lessons she’s learning. I come away from each chapter moved, wanting to grow deeper in love with Jesus.

Frosted branches and pine

Questions at the end of one chapter challenged me, in an uncomfortable way. She encouraged me to write down my what-If worries. I scribbled down three.

As I worked through the questions Kara presented, a new realization struck. The worries that chill me—that leave my heart in palpitations—are the same ones that I need to trust Jesus with.

Frosted needles

But if I give them over into Jesus’ hands, that means He could allow my fears to become reality. If he does this, what does it mean?

It means I might have to live through the worst things I can imagine. All of them involving huge losses.

Snow on Trees

I have a choice. I can hold onto these fears, with them hanging always over my head, always in the back corner of my thoughts. Those What-if’s have power enough to thwart sleep at night, to leave me in a sweat, to leave me worrying about something that may never become reality.

Or, I can entrust myself to Jesus. Don’t get me wrong. I belong to Him, I know I do. But, I’ve withheld part of my heart from Him. I’ve held back my loves—my husband and boys. They belong to Him. But, I want control over what happens to them.

Sounds silly. I know. Sounds selfish, I’m certain.

Snowy dawn

I’m so thankful for a patient Father. He hasn’t ripped those what-if’s from my grip and made them reality. He may never weave them into the fabric of my story. But, the truth is . . . He may. I must choose to live in trust that if these things happen, He will bring good through it. He will help my guys, and help me through whatever He allows into our lives.

Storms and cold come into our lives, but not because God doesn’t love us, or is out to get us. Rather it’s because He’s crafting beauty in us that will both reflect His glory and help us to become more like Him.

Skiing In the storm

Each human shares both intrinsic similarities and startlingly unique traits. He’s crafted us that way. There will never be another Jeanne Takenaka (some people rejoice at that thought!). He’s crafting a one-of-a-kind story with each life that walks this earth. He puts even more care into our lives than He does in creating the beauty of a snowflake.

He has a unique plan for each person. And He has good in them. I’m not saying God causes health issues or tragedies to happen in our lives. But, He does use them to conform us to His image. To make us a beautiful reflection of Him in the lives of those around us.

He grows beauty through the trials, even as He leaves glimpses of beauty behind after a snowstorm.

Iced red leaves

A unique snowflake.

He cares enough about something measuring less than a quarter-inch long to craft it uniquely. Imagine how much more He cares about us, whom He created in His own image? When we face trials, He walks through them with us. He strengthens us to live well.

Snow sun beauty

He’s made each human a distinct creation. Like snowflakes, no two will ever be completely identical. He cares for each of us, loves us. He creates a story for each person to walk that is uniquely our own. Shared with Him, if we’ll invite Him in.

What about you? How have you seen God’s care in your life? What would you say is your most unique trait?

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12 thoughts on “Worries: Perspective on Fear”

  1. Great post, but there is a point at which I don’t agree.

    I don’t think God allows horrible things into our lives; I think they are a product of a world in which free will is a necessary component. We see it in the actions of people, which are sometimes completely at odds with anything Jesus taught, but I don’t think it;s a stretch to believe that the ‘free will world” is what allows things like cancer and ALS.

    I’m biased, I suppose, because I have seen people whose lives went horribly bad – at the hands of others – and in whose end there was no beauty. Nothing good came. It was something to mourn, and that was it. There was no grace in the mourning.

    God had to have been aghast, and His role, as I see it, is to be there, waiting at the foot of the cross upon which some of us must die.

    He hates the pain, but to jump in and alleviate it – to put his fingers into Creation – would remove the need for faith. He’d just become a heathen God we’d try to placate.

    So He has to stand by, weeping, a broken-hearted Creator, seeing suffering that He can, but must not, end. He can only offer comfort.

    I’ll admit to one big hole in this theological construct, and that is the existence of miracles. I simply don’t know, but would postulate that they are more in keeping with God’s strategic vision rather than the day-to-day life of this world. In other words – miracles exist to make a global point, and are not bequeathed for ‘local benefit.

    As a disclaimer, there is another bias to my view, and it’s personal. If God allowed illness into my life, he proved the point with pain quite awhile ago, and Enough Already!

    But I don’t sense that. He’s helping me through each hour, sometimes – like today – through each minute.

    There is one way I can accept His “allowing: it, and that is if the illness had to land on someone, and He chose me because he knew I was hard enough to take it.

    Sorry for the rambling, Jeanne. And again…good post.

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    1. Andrew, you bring up some good points, and you’ve got me thinking. I don’t have any solid answers or responses yet. 🙂 One thing I see in your response is that sometimes, the “beauty” comes in God’s meeting us moment by moment in the struggles of this life. It may not be in the outcome, and it’s not usually in the process. Maybe it’s the comfort and the strength He offers in each moment. Just thinking out loud here.

      You did it again—broadening my perspective. Thank you for that. 🙂

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  2. Jeanne: Sometimes I can’t decide which I like more — the words you pen for your blog or the thousands of words hidden in each of your photographs.

    Piggybacking on Andrew’s comment, if you’ll pardon the visual (giggle): At times I ignore the whole “Does God allow/cause suffering” debate and go right to who is God to me and for me when I am suffering? question. At times like now, when I can’t sleep because of some physical discomfort, I remember when I asked God, “Where are you in this, God?” And I heard his reply: “Right here, Beth. Right here.”
    And it was so comforting to know that unlike the song that proclaims God is watching us from a distance, I know that God is close to us when we struggle. That his ears are open to our prayers. That he is a God of relationship, not distance.

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    1. I remember that song! Sung by Bette Midler, I believe.

      Have something of a Dance of Insomniacs here, Jeanne. Thus the effect of a thought-provoking blog.

      The past couple of hours have proven to be an interesting adjunct to the question, as this night has been truly terrifying. Dozed off, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t wake up, and couldn’t move for pain. An evil combination.

      God’s here, in strengthening my resolve to neither cry out not lose myself in despair. Both were tempting. But by the same token, any indication that He was causing this, or even allowing it, to somehow bring ‘good’ from it, would have the immediate and permanent effect of driving me away

      You don’t win a dog’s loyalty by beating the stuffing out of him.

      One might counter by saying that a horse must be broken before its true worth is found.. I concede that.

      But a man is not a horse, and maybe the failing of his man is that he doesn’t know how to break. If I have to fight the whole world, and God as well, I’ll do it.

      Might be the answer, right there.

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      1. I’m sorry it was a rough night! I believe you’re right in that God knows how much we can handle—in every capacity. And He knows how to reveal more of Himself to each person in a way he or she can receive.

        I’m praying over what you’ve shared, and I’m praying for you today my friend. 🙂

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      2. I do appreciate the prayers. Things are getting a bot fraught at present, and I have to depend on God to give me the strength for every step.

        And to hope, and reach into the future, because it is so very easy to accept a falling curtain on this particular play.

        There are more acts to come, and if need be, I will tear the curtain down myself.

        It’s been done before. Jewish carpenter, as I recall.

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    2. Beth, I loved that song for a time. 🙂 Just the beauty of the melody and harmonies. 🙂

      Thank you for your words, and what you add to this conversation. He does offer comfort in the struggles, and He’s as close as our next breath. I’m so glad He’s a relational God!

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      1. The song I really liked was “One of Us”…and I have this memorized, not having heard it since the 90s.

        What if God was one of us?
        Just a slob, like one of us?
        Just a stranger on the bus
        trying to make His way home.
        Nobody calling on the phone,
        except the Pope maybe in Rome…

        That song made God real for me, one day as I was driving a truck through the night in a place I will not mention. I realized that God was vulnerable, and that He could hurt, and that He could be lonely.

        And that I could help Him.

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  3. Jeanne – Thank you for this moving, though-provoking peace. We will never fully understand the mind of God, but we can learn much about His character through our journey- especially the difficult parts. Your point is taken: Our stories, however they unfold, are meant to glorify Him in a unique way. I love these lines: “Storms and cold come into our lives, but not because God doesn’t love us, or is out to get us. Rather it’s because He’s crafting beauty in us that will both reflect His glory and help us to become more like Him.” Thank you.

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    1. You’re so right! We will never fully understand the mind of God. But we can learn more about Him, and hopefully become more like Him as we walk the steps of our journey. I’m so glad you stopped by, Karen!

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  4. Lots of interesting thoughts today for a challenging question. Andrew you are quite a philosopher, and I agree with you~ I don’t see that God allows it either; rather I see evil (pain, disease, etc) as something God will walk through with us and allow us to be strengthened through it. I remember writing about this in Cast Up A Highway. Saw Paul’s comments in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 as an answer for where Paul begged God to remove “a thorn (a splinter) in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to rack and buffet and harass me, to keep me from being excessively exalted”. The rest of the verse is His response~ a good one. But having a tiny peep into what Andrew endures, It brings out admiration`~ the way you handle your situation. Prayers certainly for you!

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