When I Am Afraid
What are you afraid of?
Rejection? Failure? Heights? Snakes? Cancer, Alzheimer’s, or some other disease? The unknown? The list could fill the page. Some fears are rational, some irrational, but I’d guess that we’ve all faced fears at some point in our lives.
Fear is common to man, but if we trust the Lord to be who He says He is, there is no need to fear. We can rest in Him.
Last week, I got a health report that quickly led to fear. It isn’t a big thing compared to what many people face, but it could greatly impact my quality of life. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was fearful about having a possible procedure and also fearful to not have it.
I prayed, gave it to the Lord, told Him I trusted in Him to guide me, knew that He’d be with me, and so forth. But I still lacked peace. The little nagging fear persisted..
Then, while traveling, I went with our son a study of the 23rd Psalm, led by Jeff Wiggs. The Lord spoke to me anew through probably the most familiar chapter of the Bible, which is also one of my favorites. While it won’t do justice to Jeff, I’d like to share some of what God showed to me through his teaching.
When in the care of our Shepherd, we can live without fear, for:
- He watches over us so that we have no wants.
- He abundantly provides for us and makes us rest in lush green pastures. (In a barren land, like Israel, this speaks of great abundance and generosity.)
- He gives us refreshment and quenches our thirst by leading us to quiet waters. (Sheep won’t drink from running water, they need still waters. The good shepherd meets their particular need.)
- He is concerned for our inner man too, restoring our souls when we become anxious, troubled, or fearful.
- He guides us—not just to physical provision, but He leads us to the path for our lives—the path of right relationships, right choices, for the work that He has prepared for us, but especially for relationship with Him. But it’s not because we deserve it. It’s because of Him and because we are His—i.e. for His own name’s sake.
- When we walk through the dark and difficult times when there seems to be no hope, we don’t need to fear evil, because
- He is with us and will never leave us
- His rod (for fighting off enemies) and staff (for rescuing and caring for us) are ever ready to be used for our protection. Therefore, we can rest in Him.
- He prepares a (rich, plentiful, lush, banquet) table for us. It is available even while our enemies are all about, threatening us. There is no need to fear their threats and jeers when we sit at His table with Him.
- He anoints our heads with oil, symbolizing honor that is only bestowed on His special guests. That’s you. And me.
- Our cups run over. There is an abundance of His love, care, and generosity.
- Indeed, His goodness and mercy will follow us each and every day of our lives. Not just in the hereafter, but now. Here in this wicked world. All the days of our lives.
- And we will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Even today. In fearful situation.
God is real, more real than anything earthly we experience, any trial we face, any fear we have. Furthermore, He’s unchanging. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8).
When we fear, we do not experience the fullness of Psalm 23, or of the salvation that’s available through Jesus Christ, the Great Shepherd (Heb. 11:20-21).
Indeed, when we are aware of the fulness of Psalm 23 and/or the salvation we have through Jesus, we will not be afraid.
So, what causes us to forget the great love and care that our Lord has for us? How do we miss out on His generous provision and protection?
Could it be because we are distracted? As we sit at the table that is prepared for us, is our attention consumed by the majesty of our Host and the blessings of the banquet with Him? Or, do we look at the enemies all around us?
Fear comes as we turn our attention to the enemy.
When we’re afraid, we need to turn our eyes back on Jesus, all that He is, and all that He’s done for us. When looking into His face, we know we can trust His protection from any danger that surrounds us. When our eyes are on Him, His grace is sufficient.
It doesn’t mean that we won’t have trials and persecution. After all, He warned us that we will, but we can rest in the knowledge that He will be with us. When we are afraid, we can be assured His grace will carry us through–if we trust in Him.