When I am Afraid

Guincho Beach outside of Cascais, Portugal (Photo by Mark J Booth)

Guincho Beach outside of Cascais, Portugal (Photo by Mark J Booth)

“What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” (Psalm 56:3)

“Mom, please leave the hall light on and don’t close the door.” These words were almost a nightly ritual when I was a child. Growing up I was afraid of many things. When I went to bed, I was afraid of the dark. When I went to school, I was afraid of failure. When I tried to become friends with someone, I was afraid of rejection. When I heard about somebody having cancer, I was afraid that I would get cancer. Being afraid is something that we struggle with throughout our lives.  We may outgrow some of our childhood fears, but we replace them with new fears.

As adults, we may suppress our fears before others, but deep down, we have to admit that we are still afraid of many things. We are afraid of what the future holds in our lives.  We fear rejection by people around us. Fear can overtake us as we contemplate death.  Sickness or financial reversal always seem to be lurking around the corner. We dread what will happen next.

Being afraid has been a reality since the fall of man. Adam and Eve were afraid of God after they had eaten the forbidden fruit. Abraham was afraid of Pharaoh when he and Sarah fled to Egypt to escape a famine. Moses was afraid of being executed for murder; so he fled to the wilderness. The disciples were afraid of the storm, and cried out to the Lord. Peter was afraid of those who were warming up by the fire; so he  denied the Lord.  John Mark was afraid of persecution for preaching the Gospel; so he abandoned his mission work.

David faced several events in his life that caused him to be afraid.  How did he handle those times of fear. In Psalm 56:3, David writes: “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.”  David understood the reality of his fear, but he also remembered the reality of God. Let’s join David and see how we are to handle those times when we are afraid.

Before we can share our fear with God, we must recognize that we are afraid. Most of the time we are afraid of the “What ifs” in life. “What if something happens to me?” “What if I lose my job?” “What if I can’t complete my assignment?” Our fears often creep up upon us in an unexpected way. Soon, we become paralyzed by our fear, like a deer staring into the headlights of an oncoming car.

Other times, we become afraid of something that is not imaginary, but very real. We receive bad news from the doctor. We receive a notice in our mailbox that our house will soon be repossessed. David recognizes these times of being afraid. He doesn’t face his fear with a false bravado, but he recognizes his fear. He knows that the relief from his fear doesn’t come from within himself, but in the Living God.

After recognizing his fear, David focuses upon the One who can take care of his fear. God alone has the power, strength, love, and wisdom to carry us through our fear.  When the disciples were afraid of the storm, they went to Jesus who was sleeping in the boat. They knew that He alone could calm the storm about them. Yes, the storm was threatening. Yes, the storm was violent, but they knew that the Lord would carry them through this storm.

Our fears often control us because we forget the greatness of our God. David, as he faced Goliath, recognized that there was One greater than Goliath. Our God can deal with whatever Goliath we are facing. The more we grow in our knowledge of God, the more we will live a life free from fear.

After recognizing his fear, and focusing upon God’s greatness, David now entrusts his life to God. The word “trust” in Psalm 56:3 has the idea of leaning upon. David understands that the only way to conquer his fear is to totally lean upon God as he walks through the dangerous path that is before him.

As David wrote in Psalm 23, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;” Even in the most dangerous road of all, death, David is not afraid because he is leaning upon the Lord who is walking with him through this very dark valley.

Like David, we face many dangerous roads. Yes, some of the dangers are imaginary, but many of the dangers are real. If we choose to walk those dangerous roads alone. our fears will consume us. However, if we choose to lean upon Our Loving, All-Powerful Lord, we can walk upon the most dangerous road with courage.

“Dear Lord, we live in a world filled with danger. We find it easy allow fear to control us.  especially when we forget you. Help us to lean upon you completely, as we travel every dangerous road that is before us.  We do not ask to live a life without danger, but please be with us as we travel into danger. Thank you for allowing us to lean upon you no matter how dark the path is before us. Teach us that we don’t have to be afraid, because you are greater than any fear. Amen”

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