Psalm 56:3-4 When I am afraid,
I will trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
What can mortal man do to me?
Everyone has times of fear, because fear is a natural safety mechanism. There are a lot of things we had better be afraid of! However, there are levels and types of fear. It has been well said that courage is not the absence of fear, but rather acting in the face of fear. Some people are fear junkies, going for horror movies or “extreme sports” or the like. That aside, fear can be paralyzing, and it can certainly rob us of a great deal, starting with peace. The antidote for fear is trust. The people and things around us are trustworthy to varying degrees, with some of them being completely untrustworthy. God alone is worthy of complete trust; here the problem is in our failure to trust. David is outlining the correct course of action: choose to trust God. The way we know we can trust God is by His Word, so David praises that Word. With that choice made, fear is dealt with. After all, what is a human enemy in the face of God? That’s not to say that people can’t do us damage in the temporal realm, but Jesus spoke directly to that. “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28) Any damage incurred on this earth, up to and including death, is no big deal on the eternal scale, so if we are secure as children of God by faith in Jesus Christ, we’ve got nothing to sweat. If we fear God, that is, understand that He is perfectly holy and that we are accountable to Him, then all other fear becomes unnecessary and a waste of emotional energy. Fear is exhausting!
I have feared various things over the years, most recently being the fear of having my ministry cut short, because of already having outlived my father despite having a genetic predisposition to the heart disease that took him. A recent thorough heart check cleared that up and helped me realize how much it had been hanging over me. As a pastor I deal with fearful people constantly, and some of them are really messed up by fear. My task is to turn their attention from themselves and their problems to the One who has already overcome those problems. (John 16:33) Some of them can be remarkably fixated on their problems, feeling insecure if they don’t have something to worry about! I can’t straighten them out by my wisdom and strength, but I can speak the truth to them in love without fearing their reaction, and that is what I need to do. As David told Timothy, “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7) I am to pray for and encourage believers to open themselves up to the full flow of the Holy Spirit, because He will deal with all the issues I can’t touch.
Father, thank You for being totally trustworthy. Thank You for the things You’ve been doing recently to show people that things they had feared aren’t so bad after all. Help us all trust You more and more, seeking Your kingdom and Your righteousness rather than being anxious about anything at all, so that we won’t allow fear to rob us of any of the abundance You have prepared for us. Thank You. Praise God!