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When overwhelmed with fear, read the Bible, pray, go to a house of worship, call your pastor and call a friend

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Ron HemphillHebrews 12:2 – "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."

If I had a dime for every time I've heard someone say, "I can't wait for this year to get over and next year to start," I could probably take the first six months off and not work!

So many people are struggling, businesses closing or at least shut down for a while. The work force at a reduced capacity and of course incomes taking a hit as well. Saving accounts depleted and people tapping into their retirement accounts. All hope seems to have vanished.

Maybe, as you read this article, you are one of those who are directly affected by these events. Sitting in your proverbial boat with only one oar and going in circles. Your hope, 2021, which is nothing more than a pipe dream if you have nothing so substantiate it on.

To "coin" a phrase some of have heard, "Know Jesus and Know hope, No Jesus and No hope." I, too, am hoping and believing for a greater year in 2021 than what 2020 seemed to hold. 2020 has been a real struggle. As a pastor, it has been so difficult to watch people suffer financially, then suffer in their health as so many became sick and then suffer greater still with the loss of a loved one either to the virus or some other cause.

People come to me so much of the time thinking I have all the answers, but really, I am just like you, I put my pants on one leg at a time. I, too, have to pray and seek God, I, too, have to trust in Him and try to make the best decision I can possibly make. Then when you come to me, I try to offer or give you some sort of hope.

Psalm 39:7 says it best, "And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You." It is so hard to look into someone's eyes and only see hopelessness and fear. One thing I've learned, if nothing else, that this virus has struck fear into people. Fears lead to stress, and stress can kill you. My hope is in the Lord, my peace does come from the Lord.

I think of those who lived through the Great Depression, which was worldwide, not just in the United States of America. Maybe you are one of those who lived through that time frame. You remember the fear and uncertainty of what tomorrow may or may not hold. Your babies crying because their bellies were empty, and you were so helpless to do anything about it.

Maybe, 2020 wasn't quite that bad, but for some, their lives were filled with hopelessness. May I suggest that you once again open your Bibles, if you can go to a house of prayer or worship, if you are unable to attend, for whatever the reason; call your pastor, or call a pastor or a friend who you know knows how to pray.

Jesus said when you pray, and you know He hears you, you will have what you ask for. Where two or three are gathered together, there He is in the midst of them. Since we don't have party lines anymore (remember those days) make a conference call (a modern-day party line) or just a friend – TWO or three, the scripture says. If you call on Him, He is there (Jesus).

So, for 2021, I am looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of my faith. Oh, by the way, I also looked unto Jesus in 2020. I certainly would never be "flip" about your trials and fears, they are very real, but so is Jesus. He is very real and Psalm 46:1 says, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."

I have walked with the Lord a long time, and this year begins my 39th year pastoring here in Prineville. I have seen the face of Prineville change over and over again. And yet through it all, good bad or indifferent, Jesus has never let me down. He promised to never walk away from you, you might get out ahead of Him (I'm thinking of the poem "Foot Prints in the Sand"). You look back and only see one set of tracks, it is during those times that He is carrying you. You are not alone. Make 2021 a year when you call on Jesus and sing "Precious Jesus Hold my Hand."

He loves you and has your best interest at heart. We will walk through this together.

Ron Hemphill is the pastor at New Life Bible Chapel. He can be reached at 541-447-6543.

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