Fear is something common to every man. Still, we shame ourselves for our fears as exposure of them reveals some of our deepest inadequacies and leaves us feeling naked, grasping for our fig leaves yet again. We are certain that we should know better than to be afraid. After all, we grew up to know the monsters in our closets were never there. Or perhaps they are, just having now changed faces and shapes. There are strands in each of our souls that are still afraid, yet we stuff that fear down so deeply and so consistently that often we have lost the ability to name it.
I want to give you a chance here in these moments as you read to voice your fears. But, I don’t want to leave it at that; there is no value in calling something by name and then walking away. Adam was called to name things in order that he could exercise God-empowered dominion over them, thus being a good steward. We need to name because we need to recognize who has authority over our flesh, gradually living in the reality that we are not to be held in captivity to our fears.
Before we name our fears, I want to undo any heart or head knowledge we have that believes they are necessary. Watch television for any amount of time or pick up a newspaper and we are coaxed into the thought-pattern that living in fear (and crisis) whether it be large or small is “true reality” and “much-needed”. The talk never lets up nor the beliefs that drive them. I am referring to the dread, the what ifs, the what next, the anxieties in extreme—those nagging senses that cause us to loose sleep or live a life motivation by trying to avoid undesirable circumstances.
In Job 3: 25-26 we see Job has slipped into this when he says “What I have feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness, no rest, but only turmoil.” Job lost what is always lost when fear wins: peace. And peace is not something we can create in our own souls. It is not packaged with great intellect, talent or sensitivity—it is simply provided by Christ.
This peace comes only as a result of being gripped by the true reality of our source of hope. Daily we’re assaulted to abandon this,yet God remains. Psalm 46: 1-3 outlines this. Look at the “therefore” in vs. 2.
If everything you know is removed (the earth, the mountains etc.) it does not matter because God, our source is consistent. He is for us! In verses 1, 7 and 11 the literal rendering in Hebrew is “for us”. For us! What is he “for us”?
- A refuge: He is a defensive place of protection. We can run into him and shut the door, sit back and say “ahhh” and be safe at home.
- A strength: This means provision from within, power to endure. Grace is in the today and it will be there tomorrow. Moment by moment he’ll be our strength. The now is critical.
- A very present help: Once again, present. He is readily available. He reveals himself where we are at, as we are, with his supernatural presence.
Remember, David is writing here to a Jewish audience. The Psalms were the songs they sang. Imagine them singing this! Vs. 4 and 5 would have been very meaningful to them because all ancient cultures gathered around large bodies of water. Without water, existence was very difficult. Yet here, David is saying that Jerusalem, which was not located by a large body of water, could indeed thrive if they remembered and allowed themselves to be dependent on God. He is that river to them and to us. And in his city—indeed, his kingdom here on earth that is alive and well within each one of us who profess Christ! All of his resources and his presence supplies unlimited protection, provision, security and deliverance even in the midst of the most severe trouble.
Many of us are familiar with the story of Martin Luther. At the Diet of Worms, Luther was given the choice as to whether he would stand on scripture alone or scripture and tradition. Before he voiced his choice, he meditated on Psalm 46, and then he chose solo scriptura. Thus, he was sentenced to die. While on the way to the place where his death sentence would be carried out, he was rescued by some friends. They took him to a remote castle where he hid out here for quiet some time. While in this fortress he mediated again on Psalm 46 and out of this he wrote the great hymn “A Mighty Fortress in our God.” “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing. Our strength is He amid the flood…” He went on to translate the New Testament into the language of the common man, and the Word went out with power.
He dared to believe that God was for him, therefore he did not fear. He is for us, therefore we will not fear, though…what is your “though”? “Though what” in your life gives away, though what falls apart, though what roars and quakes?
Let me close with 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.”
Jesus, we chose again to receive your peace as we allow You to name our fears and exercise your dominion over them, proving again that You are our protection and our provision, your supernatural presence in our lives giving us hope. Enable us to confess our sins to one another in fullness—our anxieties and worries that point to areas where we have difficulty trusting You—that we might healed. Liberate us again from all that entangles us so we may run unhindered, believing You are who You say You are.
*These are notes from a message I recently gave here at the the Center for Global Outreach. They came out of time meditation on Psalm 46 and naming my own fears.