Whenever I start to feel lost in this mess of a world that we live in, first I look to God for answers and then I remind myself to look back about thirty years and recall a time in my life when I was overtaken by fear. Fear that was brought about by a period of extreme poverty. Fear that was brought about by the uncertainty of my family’s situation. Fear that seemed as though it would never go away. But also, fear that I no longer have because I’ve witnessed first-hand what God can do.
When I was about ten years old, my family lost everything. It seemed like one day we were fine and the next we were auctioning off all of our things. We packed the rest into our old van and drove to Florida, where we settled for a bit. Not too long after that, we packed it all back up and moved to Texas where things became even more bleak. We had very little money and my father couldn’t find work. We ended up staying in a trailer park in Beaumont where the rats were as big as dogs and every night we could hear them clawing at the walls of our trailer. I was afraid to go to sleep for fear they would claw through and start chewing on me and my little sister while we slept. When things got even worse, we ended up moving to Vidor, Texas and sharing a three-bedroom house with two other families who had trekked to Texas with us. Each family holed up in one of the bedrooms and we ate mostly gravy and macaroni and cheese. Occasionally, there were fried potatoes, but with a total of thirteen people living together in the house, decent food was hard to come by.
After a while, we ended up leaving Texas and heading back to Ohio. Sadly, we ended up stopping in Kentucky for a funeral after hearing that my great grandmother had passed. At that point we had no money so we stayed with my grandmother briefly and then found ourselves setting up camp in an abandoned house that had no electricity, no heat, and no running water. We heated the place with a wood burning stove and ran an extension cord up the hill to a distant relative’s house so that we could plug in a lamp. We boiled water on a coal stove in the kitchen so that we could have hot water for baths. We ate lots of sandwiches in those days because that was all we could afford. By that point, I had attended five different schools and the school year that I’d begun in Ohio still had a couple of months to go.
I remember that the kids on my bus were all saying that there were people predicting that the world was going to end. As I looked out the window of the bus each day on the way home from school, all I could think of was that I didn’t want to die here. I kept thinking that it just wasn’t fair that this was where my life was going to stop. There would be no realization of childhood dreams. I was not going to grow up and own a yacht where I would throw big parties and host celebrities. I was not going to marry some handsome prince and live happily ever after. I was going to cease to exist here in the hills of Kentucky, never having realized a single dream but having lived through what surely had been a nightmare.
At ten years old, you really don’t question the likelihood of those end-of-days predictions coming true. You hear something and you take it to heart. So, imagine my relief when the so-called “last day of the world” came and went and I was still breathing. I was still awake and alive. I was still okay. The world hadn’t ended. Our situation hadn’t necessarily improved, but we were still here and we were still fighting.
My family was finally able to move back to Ohio and start over. I ended up attending six schools during my fourth grade year. By the time I returned to Ohio, I had retreated so far into myself that most people thought I was a mute when they met me. Over time, I got better. Once I was able to experience some stability again, I found my voice. It took a long time before I was strong enough to use my voice, but at least I knew it was there.
The point of telling you all of this is to say that no matter how scary things look right now, you will one day look back and say, “I’m still here. I’m still breathing. I’m still alive. And I am okay.” Don’t let fear overtake you. The devil is counting on the fact that all of what is happening is as terrifying to you now as those rats that were clawing through the walls of our trailer were to me then. He’s hoping to paralyze you with fear so that you forget that we’ve already won this battle. The sky is not falling. Evil does not win. In fact, there’s a very cool story about it in the book of Revelation. In 20:10, we read, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” This is what will happen. This is God’s promise. In between here and there, we may experience hardships, but we must keep our eyes on Him and understand that He is very much in control no matter how out of control things appear to be at the moment.
Keep praying. Keep hoping. Keep believing. Keep the faith. God is here and He’s got His eye on each and every one of us. Better days are coming.
Rebecca Benston is the owner of Higher Ground Books & Media and the author of over twenty titles currently available through Amazon and other outlets. Her books include a mystery series (The Rona Shively Stories), empowerment resources such as Wise Up to Rise Up, Don’t Be Stupid (And I Mean That in the Nicest Way), and From Judgment to Jubilee, children’s books including Grumble D. Grumble Learns to Smile, All the Scary Things, and See How Strong You Are. Benston lives in Springfield, Ohio with her awesome daughter, Mya and enjoys traveling, reading, writing, and telling it like it is. She enjoys being able to help other authors get their stories out there through Higher Ground and has recently expanded her freelance services to offer more extensive guidance as a writing coach. For more information, you can contact Benston at firstname.lastname@example.org.