“When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper” (Psalm 118:5-7).

Ed Dobson, slowly dying of ALS, admits that the more he thought about what would happen to him as the disease progressed, the more afraid he became. ALS slowly reduces the capacity to swallow and to breathe, but until death comes, the brain functions normally. Through the long process, the person with Lou Gehrig’s disease is fully aware of what is happening. In his struggle, Dobson found that one Bible passage helped him more than any other: Hebrews 13: 5-6. “God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’ So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear.’”

Especially in times of serious illness or significant loss, our fears about what may happen to us or our loved ones may grow into ominous clouds darkening our thoughts and emotions. In the same way, uncertainties create anxieties that invade and drain our spirits and our sense of God’s presence. Yet the Bible is full of passages that promise that God will be there for us when we call. We may experience extreme troubles, but we can ask the Holy Spirit to assuage our fears and give us courage that transcends what’s happening to us.

Ed Dobson says that when he feels fear beginning to take over his life, he takes a time out. He repeats the verses over and over: “God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’ So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear.’” Courage is not the absence of fears, but facing our fears head on. Remind yourself that the Good Shepherd is with you in each of the valleys you traverse, then lay your fears at His feet and ask Him to equip you for service with courage.

Adapted from The One Year Book of Encouragement