Elise was astounded to find several emails addressed to her at her “Advice for the Life-Worn” address—her first genuine questions from readers, appearing just two days after she had officially published the site, in time for her last creative writing class.
The first two were relatively useless, with one asking about which of two boyfriends sounded like a better bet, and the second proposing that “love your enemies” really referred only to citizens of enemy nations; she would just send these writers quick personal responses. But the third posed a question she had been asking herself for years.
I am a single woman and have been taking care of myself for my entire adult life. I have a good job, a nice suburban home, and a few close friends. Sounds perfect, right?
But it isn’t, and I don’t know why other than to say that I am so afraid of so many things. Crime, rodents, driving in traffic, disease, getting old, not getting old, having too much money to manage, having too little money, being broke, being homeless—the list goes on and on.
I have heard it said that the Bible says “don’t be afraid” something like 365 times. I would love to obey—but how?
Elise poured herself a glass of grape juice and sat down to compose an answer to put both their fears to rest.
Boy, do I identify with your question! In fact, I have personally searched the Bible for all the passages saying, essentially, “fear not” and have found it very helpful to spend a little time each day in one or more of these references. (Luke 12:32 is probably my favorite: “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” I just love the image of being a poor dumb sheep who is utterly dependent upon her shepherd.)
So that’s one important thing to do. The other one is to consider God’s nature: He is all powerful and sovereign, He loves each of us enough to have died for us, and He has told us that we are more valuable than the sparrows He tends to with such perfect diligence. In short, He is able to take care of us, He wants to, and He will.
If these things are true—and they are!—why do we think He would do anything less than take care of us perfectly? With the Creator of the universe Himself watching out for us, why in the world would we ever fear anything?
She reminded Emily that God’s idea of what’s good for us is often quite different from our own, and that we need to learn to trust what Romans 8:28 says about all things working together for the good of those who love Him. She then tapped out what would become her standard closing:
Thank you for writing, Emily. Please let me know if you have further thoughts, or if I can help in any way.
She proofed and posted her reply and then sent the link to Ms. Slocum, to show off her first genuine reader Q&A.
“You may or may not agree with my content,” she wrote, figuring that Ms. Slocum was likely as agnostic as her best friend Meg. “But I’m sure you’ll be pleased to see that Everlasting Place is already attracting readers in need of spiritual help. Thank you for holding my hand through this process! Elise Chapelle”
--From The Song of Sadie Sparrow, pages 310-312