Fear is an instinctive reaction. I can clearly recall the fear and terror I felt when the Twin Towers fell on 9-11. All living creatures have the defenses of fight (standing our ground) and flight (running away to safety). We need to learn that being afraid is not a sign of weakness, but we also need to learn when to run or get help and when to stand up for ourselves.
NAMING OUR FEARS
School shootings and bullying, natural disasters, terrorist bombings and shootings... our world feels less safe, our homes less secure. Suddenly we know friends, friends of friends, or family whose lives have been hit by tragedy.
A HIDING PLACE
When I feel overwhelmed, when the news or my own anxiety gets the better of me, the psalms have become a hiding place. Many of the psalms are a cry for help, a desperate shout to God. These psalms express a lament - a feeling of deep sadness, fear, or hurt about something that has gone wrong, something beyond our control. We feel powerless and desperate and overwhelmed by fear.
Save me, God! I am about to drown. I am sinking deep in the mud, and my feel are slipping. Psalm 69:1-2 (CEV)
Day and night my tears are my only food, as everyone keeps asking, "Where is your God?" Psalm 42:3 (CEV)
LORD HEAR MY PRAYER
Then, something changes in the psalm. God hears our grief. God sees our tears. We remember that God is with us and has always been present.
Our ancestors trusted you and you rescued them. When they cried out for help, you saved them. Psalm 22:4-5 (CEV)
These heartfelt cries for deliverance remind us of the disciples in a boat that was swirling around in the middle of a storm. "Master, wake up! Save us, or we'll drown!" When we are anxious or frightened, we are not alone. We have the company of family, friends and our God who will huddle together with us in the howling wind. Sometimes we yell for help and the raging waters subside. At other times, we must seek the calm within the storm and trust that Jesus stands firm beside us.
You, Lord, are the light that keeps me safe... You protect me, and I have no fears. Psalm 27:1 (CEV)
Ask your teen...
When has your safety been threatened? Who helped you find a place of safety or a sense of peace? How was God a source of strength when you were afraid and vulnerable?
Challenge your teen...
Our experiences - good and bad - shape us, but they do not have to define us. We can find ways to feel safe and we can talk to people we trust to help us move forward with healing and even forgiveness. Select one of the psalms below and read it as your prayer for today. Listen for a word or phrase that speaks to you. Look for the movement from terror to trust. Write your own prayer of lament or of gratitude.
Psalm 6, 7, 13, 22, 38, 41, 42, 43, 51, 69, 88
Thank you, God, for carrying us through the pain and grief of trauma. Give us courage to believe your promises to be with us and to keep us safe. Amen.