When we’re weary and tender, doesn’t it always seem that the enemy shows up with a new list of things to fear? Our tired hearts need someone to encourage us toward Jesus and Judy Dunagan is just that companion. She has been in places of anxiety and fear and has found God faithful. Take heart, friend—you are not alone in your worries. It’s a grace to welcome Judy to the farm’s table today…
I have battled anxiety for much of my life.
There have been seasons in which I experienced the normal worries of motherhood, such as concern for toddlers with high fevers or settling our children into new schools because of our many moves. But there have been other seasons where I thought my anxiety would take me under.
I believe that some of my tendency toward anxiety is how I am wired and that I will have to continuously surrender my worries to Jesus throughout my life. But there have been times when I know that the enemy targets the areas where I am most vulnerable, trying to defeat me and make me question God’s presence and protection over me and my family.
One of those seasons of fear was during our move to Beijing when our daughters were only three and five years old.
The famous opening line to Charles Dickens’s novel A Tale of Two Cities aptly describes our three years in China: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
Some of our best times were when we’d explore that fascinating city. I especially remember one autumn day when we caravanned with a few other families to a remote part of the Great Wall in our cars, Jeeps, and sidecar motorcycles. To make it even more of an adventure, we decided to bring our tents so we could camp on the Wall that night.
My husband, Rick, drove our antique sidecar motorcycle with our two little girls and their lop-eared rabbit, Moses, tucked in the sidecar. I followed behind in our Jeep, loaded with our cooler of food. Arriving at our favorite portion of the Great Wall—free from crowds and tourists—Rick pitched our tents while the girls and I climbed the steep stairs leading to a section that resembled the remnant of a castle.
Later that night, as the sun began to set, we grilled chicken wings and roasted marshmallows for s’mores. Moses hopped around until the harvest moon illuminated the outline of the Wall, winding toward the horizon as far as our eyes could see.
“While her body battled sickness, my heart battled the fear that often drove me to the point of panic.”
Though it’s a memory we will never forget—and it might sound like a magical, storybook life—our three years in China were actually some of the hardest years on our family.
Kelly, tiny for her age, contracted many strange illnesses. While her body battled sickness, my heart battled the fear that often drove me to the point of panic. Rick’s job was extremely stressful, and just navigating the traffic in Beijing made me wonder if he’d make it home alive after work.
The enemy was also stepping up his attacks on me. In addition to the escalating fear for my children’s safety, I fought a rising bitterness over having to live on the other side of the world. There were days I thought that he would win and days that I let him win, giving in to his lies about God’s goodness and protection over us.
“I lived like someone in a tent, fearful and vulnerable to the storms and attacks on my family and me that could sweep us away. Yet, all along we were covered by our God who is our strong tower, shelter, and hiding place.“
Years later, when our family was long settled back in the States, I found the photos from our camping trip on the Great Wall. One pictured our two small tents right in front of a portion of the Wall that included ramparts, strong towers, and shelters towering over the tents.
Looking at that picture, I realized that for most of my time in China—and sadly much of my young adult life—I lived like someone in a tent, fearful and vulnerable to the storms and attacks on my family and me that could sweep us away. Yet, all along we were covered by our God who is our strong tower, shelter, and hiding place.
That picture reminds me of these powerful words from the psalmist David when he encountered his own fearful circumstances:
“The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”
“If, like me, you wrestle with fear, especially for your children, one way to calm those fears is to turn your worries into prayers on their behalf.”
Whatever you are facing today, read those verses aloud to stand in those truths. I am so grateful that the Lord and His angels encamp around us, hemming us in from all sides, even during the dark nights of our souls.
If, like me, you wrestle with fear, especially for your children, one way to calm those fears is to turn your worries into prayers on their behalf.
When our girls were little and I’d try to surrender my fears for their safety or health to God—I’d often think of them as being covered in His armor of protection from head to toe as I prayed over them. (Does the armor come in toddler sizes?)
I would pray, “Thank You, Jesus, that You protect my children from head to toe like Your armor covers us.” That would often calm my fears, and I’d have a sense of surrendering them into His care. I am continuing to do that today as I pray over their children now, our beloved grandchildren.
Will you pray this victory prayer with me?
Dear Lord Jesus, May I rest and abide in Your protective shelter over me. When I am afraid for my loved ones, help me turn those fears into prayers on their behalf. Thank You that Your armor of Your salvation, righteousness, truth, faithfulness, and peace cover me from the top of my head to the tip of my toes.
Teach me how to live and stand in that victorious covering every day. Calm my anxious heart with Your peace that goes beyond my human understanding. Remind me that You encamp around me and that You are my rampart, my shelter, my fortress, and my strong deliverer.
In Your mighty and victorious name, I pray. Amen.
A wonder seeker of God and His Word, Judy Dunagan is passionate about discipleship and making God’s Word and prayer come alive in everyday life. She is a speaker, Bible teacher, and acquisitions editor of women’s Bible studies and books at Moody Publishers. In her book, The Loudest Roar: Living in the Unshakable Victory of Christ, Judy encourages us to take heart, because the enemy’s roar is but a whisper in the presence of our mighty God.
God’s Word tells us that our “adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). But thankfully, our Lord Jesus is the bigger Lion with the loudest roar. We can get overwhelmed by the enemy’s roars through his temptations, lies, and fears he throws at us to the point that we no longer hear the loudest roar of our mighty God and the truth of His Word. That is why in The Loudest Roar, Judy focuses on the victory that Jesus has already won for us through his death, resurrection and ascension. Saturated in Scripture, Judy provides practical ways to fight the good fight through the protective cover of God’s armor and the roar of His Word and prayer.
[ Our humble thanks to Moody Publishers for their partnership in today’s devotion ]