I’ve met a lot of pastors over the years, but only one ever gave me a fly swatter.
No, there weren’t any flies in our church. At least none that I could see. The only difference between the fly swatter he handed to me and the one I had at home was a small butterfly-shaped tag that had been glued to the front of it. The tag gave the location of an Old Testament Bible verse.
Other than that, it was a regular, old-fashioned fly swatter. Oh, yes. It also had a name—the “fear slapper”—which was written on the tag.
I understood its name after looking up the verse, Isaiah 41:10: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
The verse was obviously selected as a reminder of God’s faithfulness during stressful times. And the pastor knew I had undergone extreme difficulties this past year.
My husband had passed away during that time, and I had been hospitalized for 10 days with COVID, almost all of it spent in bed. I was so weak that I needed full-time care for weeks after I returned home, and it took months more to recover physically. The emotional part of it has taken even longer. Grief and fear plagued me day and night.
Some of it was the fear of being alone. I hadn’t lived by myself for a long time, and I didn’t like it at all. I was fortunate that both of my children lived only a few kilometres away and were more than willing to help in any way that was needed. I also had friends nearby who meant it when they said to call them anytime for help. But sometimes even those connections weren’t enough to quell my anxiety.
Grief and fear plagued me day and night. Joyce Starr Macias
I also knew deep down in my heart that God would take care of me. But there were still those awful times when fear, stress and loneliness were my closest companions. And I just couldn’t overcome them.
I had been to a grief support group, and I knew it was important for people to share their heartaches with others as part of the healing process.
So, one Sunday morning I responded to the invitation the pastor gave for those with needs to come forward for prayer. Two women listened as I told them that fear had taken over my life, and they prayed earnestly that God would give me the peace I so desperately needed.
I felt so much better right after their prayer that I mentioned it to the pastor when I saw him at the end of the service. A little later, he said, “Wait a minute. I have something for you.”
Back he came, with a smile on his face and the fly swatter in his hand.
“This is a fear slapper,” he said. “Whenever you feel afraid, just read that verse in Isaiah and believe that God will help you, just like it says.”
Fears and Stress Begone
It sounded much too simple, and I won’t say that I found instant relief from fear every single time I said that verse. But I kept saying it and, after a while, I realized I had said it so often that I’d memorized it!
The more often I repeated it, the easier it became to believe it was true.
And with that little grain of truth came the realization that I could really slap away my fears and stress through a fly swatter—and God’s amazing grace. But it’s happening, and I’m getting better all the time