I will not fear ...
These are chaotic times; our lives reflect that chaos. The issues we face are imposing: COVID-19 virus, being isolated from family, financial fears, racial unrest, the growing number of homeless. What if things get worse? Worst-case scenarios torment our minds. What “might happen” may be worse than “what actually does happen.” You might call it the “what’s next syndrome.” What is next in our nation, town, job or family? What is next with the virus? We start dreading the news. We start anticipating the next crisis even before it arrives.
Author Max Lucado, writing on the anxiety of our times, says, “It’s a low-grade fear, an edginess, a dread, a cold wind that won’t stop howling. You can’t relax. All peace is temporary, short term. Behind every tree is a grizzly bear. It’s a matter of time before it leaps from the shadows, gobbles you up, your family, your bank account. You don’t laugh often or sleep well. Misfortune lurks.”
On this side of eternity, uncertainty is inevitable. If what we know can hurt us, then what we don’t know can drive us crazy, and it can send us over the edge. Psalm 46 was written for times like this: God is our refuge and strength, a present help in trouble. Though the earth shakes and the waters roar, though the nations rage and the ground gives way. Therefore, we will not fear.
That little word “therefore” catches our breath. Therefore, when all hell breaks loose and everything is unclear, we will NOT FEAR or be DRIVEN BY FEAR. God is our refuge. I only wish that being faithful gave us immunity. God is our refuge, but having faith in God is not an insurance policy insulating us from harm. We pray for an orderly life; we want loved ones to be safe; yet insecurity flows through our veins. We cannot “live without anxiety” but we can “live beyond it.” We can be less anxious. We can stop fearing potential threats and stop borrowing tomorrow’s trouble today.
Psalm 46 takes our attention off the things that frighten us to the God in whom we trust. God is the rock on which we stand when the quicksand of life pulls us under. God is our strength when life has drained the last drop of energy we need to survive. God is good even when life is not. Our confidence is not wishful thinking. The God who has been from the beginning; who holds together all of life; who has known and loved you all through life: he is your refuge and strength.
Therefore, I will not fear! Say it to yourself. No matter how scary the world gets or how unstable people act: even so, I WILL NOT FEAR.
Mike Shelton is pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Kingsport.