Fear. Each of us have experienced it at some point, and many are experiencing it now. We are living in times of upheaval, unrest, uncertainty, and chaos. The ripples of terrorism, threats of economic collapse, rioting, natural disasters, etc. are being felt around the world. Many are fearful, not knowing what to make of Covid.
It is silliness to simply tell people, “You shouldn’t be afraid,” or worse, “Fear is a sin.” The fact of the matter is, many of the great saints of old experienced fear: Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, and the disciples. If you are experiencing fear today, you are in good company. The challenge before you, then, is how to manage your fear?
The psalmist writes,
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. ~ Psalm 23:4-5 (ESV)
Traveling through a dark valley, seemingly alone—even in death’s shadow, not knowing what might lurk beyond one’s vision—this sounds like a pretty scary place to be (imagine the complete vulnerability of a sheep or lamb). The psalmist is not trivializing the dread. However, he acknowledges the presence of the Shepherd. The first thing the child of God must remember is God is always present with His own (even if His presence is not “felt” or “sensed.” Our feelings can be very deceiving.
Next, he mentions the Shepherd’s “rod and staff.” This is a metaphor referring to God’s Word—His instructions and promises. For example, God’s Word can shed light on the fact that our difficult situations often serve a purpose. Furthermore, God’s promises remind us that we will get through the difficulties as we lean on the Lord.
Contrary to popular belief, Jesus says we will have difficulties. He tells His disciples to not be afraid, not as a stern commandment, but because He knows there will be times they will be afraid. There are times we are afraid; however, in Him, we do not have to be overcome by fear. Perhaps you are experiencing fear today. God knows. I hope you will look to Christ, the Great Shepherd, and experience peace in His presence and Word today.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. ~ John 16:33