When I Am Afraid

The raging fires jumped over our mountain toward our home within seconds. We were watching the news updates about pending evacuations as we hurriedly packed our bags, and suddenly the news anchor seemed to panic and almost shouted, “Everyone . . . EVACUATE NOW!”

Our two college-aged daughters and I ran to our three cars and started to head down the mountain. A drive that normally would take five minutes to make it off the mountain took us 20 minutes, while we’d learn later that our neighbors who left just a few minutes after us had to wait in gridlock on that mountain for hours.

As a mom, I longed to have my daughters in my car with me and wished we hadn’t worried about saving our cars from the fire. Like a mother hen protecting her chicks in a prairie fire, I wanted my “babies” with me. There was a moment on the mountain where I thought I might get separated from them as a police officer directed the chaotic traffic. I was terrified, remembering a fire when I lived in California where stranded motorists were killed in their cars trying to evacuate.

We finally made it down the mountain safely, and sheltered in a friend’s home outside the evacuation zone. Sadly, over 350 homes were destroyed and two lives were lost on that summer day in Colorado Springs.

In the midst of this pandemic—in the dawn of spring 2020—I’ve thought of that fire evacuation often. 

Our daughters now live far from us with their own babies. Separated by several states with the order to “stay at home” our girls now have their own families to guard and protect. I’ve so longed to be near them and hold my grandbabies. There have been nights when I can’t sleep as I worry for my daughter who is a doctor having to still work at her hospital and come home to her little ones in the midst of Covid-19. Or worrying about my grandchildren (three under three years old) as Covid begins to hit little ones as well.

This pandemic is a lot like a raging fire, filled with fear of the unknown. Perhaps, like me, you are separated from loved ones you wish you could shelter with and protect. Or perhaps you sense fear and worry threatening to overtake you as the news gets more dire every day. I know I have. It seems that fear has become as contagious as the virus.

So, from one worry-prone person to another, here are some practical ways to overcome fear and worry in the midst of this pandemic:

TURNING WORRIES INTO PRAYERS — As a woman who has battled anxiety since a little girl, I have found that when I turn my worries into prayers, it calms my anxious heart. I know that is easier said than done, but I’ve found this to be the most effective way to keep my thoughts captive as fear tries to overtake. So, when I worry that my daughter and son-in-law will get the virus as doctors still serving their patients, I pray something like this: “Lord Jesus, I cry out for your protection over Christie and Brandon as they take care of their patients. Protect them and their babies from this raging fire of the virus. Help me to surrender my fears for them to You. Thank You that You are in the fire with them and promise never to leave or forsake them.”

PRAYING SCRIPTURE — Our younger daughter was only three years old when our family lived in China. She faced many strange illnesses and at one point I thought we might lose her. Fear was crippling me to the point of hopelessness. But I clung to Psalm 91 and prayed it often over little Kelly: “Father God, Thank You that You promise that whoever dwells in the shelter of You, the Most High, will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say that You are Kelly’s refuge and fortress, my God in whom I trust. Surely You will save Kelly from this deadly pestilence and under Your wings, she will find refuge. Your faithfulness will be her shield and rampart!”  Just a few weeks ago, I found myself praying that same prayer in the middle of the night when Kelly’s own baby boy, Wim, was seriously ill with a high fever and cough. I encourage you to pray your favorite Bible verses during these uncertain times.

BORROWING HOPE — I have found during this pandemic that it is so calming to talk over the phone with those older than me who have faced so much in their decades of life on this groaning earth. I borrow their hope when it seems like this pandemic is going to change our lives forever. 

My beloved mother-in-law, Roselan, was born in 1932 and lived through poverty and a plague of grasshoppers destroying their Nebraska farm as a little girl. With courage, she has faced the Great Depression, World War II, and the Korean war when my father-in-law was deployed for two years. She shared with me recently that she remembers during high school when some of her friends contracted polio and there was no vaccine. Imagine the fear that gripped the world over that debilitating and crippling disease that forever impacted many lives! And, Roselan is a survivor of stage-4 lymphoma and a recent widow. Through those more recent trials, I’ve watched how she has remained steadfast in her faith and trusts in her faithful God.

CHOOSING TO REMEMBER — Sometimes when the fires of today are raging around us, it’s easy to forget that God is faithful and in control. Sometimes we have to look back at past seasons of His faithfulness to remember His faithfulness today. The psalmist shows us how to do this in Psalm 77 where he poured out in the first half of the psalm all the trials and heartache he was facing, and then pivots at verse 10, saying 

Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
    the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works
    and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

I have been choosing to remember in my journaling “the deeds of the Lord and the miracles of long ago” during these dark days of Covid. I encourage you to do the same in your own journal or prayers. 

  • I remember that Kelly met her dear husband only because of our fires that summer of 2012 (a beautiful story for another day). 
  • I remember that God protected Kelly when she was so sick in China, and then her baby boy just a few weeks ago with a high fever.
  • I remember that God was with Christie while she served in a hospital in Africa at just 22 years old, with danger and disease all around her.
  • I choose to remember that God was with three heroes of the Bible as they were thrown into a raging fire, where they said just moments before that “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:16–20).

Dear reader, in the midst of the “even if’s” of this pandemic, together let’s turn our worries into prayers, cling to praying Scripture, borrow the hope of those who have gone before us, and choose to remember His faithfulness in the past as a reminder He will continue to be faithful until the end! 

And may we join the apostle Paul, who most likely scribbled these words during his house arrest in Rome centuries ago:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38–39).

What about you? I’d love to hear how you are doing and how I can be praying for you! And I hope this powerful song, Another in the Fire encourages you right now!


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26 Responses

  1. Judy, I hear your sweet daddy’s voice in your words. Thank you for this tender and true reminder today. Please keep giving us this kind of guidance. God has gifted you to do this. With Love, Patty

  2. I so enjoy your writings. Thank you for your encouraging words! It hasn’t been easy being away from friends and co-workers. God is good and He will win in the end! Blessings to you and Rick!

  3. Love these words of encouragement during a time that can bring on our fears! God is our refuge! God is our strength! God calms the waters during raging storms! God loves his children! There is no one like our God!!! Thanks for sharing dear friend!!

  4. Judy amazing writing! I remember the fires! We live out on the prairie East of COS but Larry my husband worked as deputy in the midst of them both! I remember watching the news during the floods after the fires and seeing his Sheriffs Office truck (he was the only deputy that drove one) go through an intersection on the video that was flooded with water up past the tires on the truck. I screamed at the TV, not sure what! Larry had made it through evacuating many homes in the fires with flames licking at his vehicle as he left. He had made it through years of walking up to vehicles and homes where people hated him. But for some reason the water seemed so out of control and I could see him real time in it! I am crying out to God in this same way but now for more than just myself, my deception of control has hampered my fear of God. I can see and hear fear or the lack of it in many! I feel unbalanced and wobbly but I am reprioritizing like I have never done before! I love your reference to the young men facing the fiery furnace! I remember a study at WVC where I learned one of the miracles of them living through the furnace was they didn’t smell like smoke!

  5. Thanks Judy I was up in the middle of the night…as a nurse (not on the front lines anymore) I have “I know too much” anxiety. I must limit my news intake & the source, or I’ll feed that anxiety to the point of futility& paralysis. Thanks for the Scriptures. & your reminder to remember His past deeds.

  6. Dear Judy,
    This is my first time to see and read your encouraging and well- written blog!
    Sooo many years ago, I attended Fruitdale Baptist with my mom, Vesta Newman and my sister, Ruth. I remember you and your wonderful sweet family. I remember pastor Bubeck. I have so many memories of that time and place. Whenever I hear “Blessed Assurance,” I’m reminded of Sitting in the pews of the church there in Wheatridge. Thank you for your ministry.

  7. Hi Judy,

    I just listened to your interview on the Moms In Prayer podcast. Thank you for sharing. May I please have a copy of your dad’s prayer please?

    Thank you and God bless you.

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