Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” - Isaiah 41:10
I remember the scene like it was yesterday. I was sitting in my first grade Sunday School class, the class where my mom taught. Each Sunday, after roll was taken, she would take the class records upstairs. She would promptly return, but to me those minutes seemed like days. I remember trying not to be frightened, thinking to myself, I’m in church. I’m safe. There is no reason to be scared. Those realities did not change my struggle, and I was still afraid.
Sadly enough, that scene played out in my young life over and over again. I would sit in school and try with all my might to not be afraid. But to no avail. My parents even gave me a quarter if I didn’t cry at school. It made no difference. My fear may have been unwarranted, and quite embarrassing, but it was all too real.
My parents taught me a verse to help me deal with my fear (and probably to help me actually live to see the second grade). The verse is Psalm 56:3, and I learned it this way: “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” My parents taught me to think about that verse whenever I was frightened. And so, countless times as a child, I found myself repeating that verse over and over and over again. I can’t say that it always made my fear subside instantaneously, but it did help to build my faith in God during difficult circumstances. Eventually, I learned to trust in the Lord regardless of my situation.
As an adult, I often find myself repeating Psalm 56:3. When my firstborn son had a difficult delivery, I said that verse repeatedly. On May 3, 1999, when the most powerful tornado of my lifetime came within one mile of our house, I prayed Psalm 56:3 a thousand times. Was I scared that I might die on May 3? I sure thought it was possible. Did the thought go through my mind that I could lose my son on February 3, 1999, just moments after he was born? More than I care to remember. And yet, even in the face of a tornado and even in the operating room with my wife and son, I found myself instinctively turning to Scripture.
Over the years, experience has been a valuable teacher. I’ve learned that tornadoes are powerful forces of nature and that I don’t have the power to sustain life. I’ve also learned that, although I may have nothing else to cling to, the Word of God is more than enough. When I have no strength within myself, His grace is sufficient.
What are your fears? Yours may be as innocent as a young child who is afraid to be away from his mom for the first time or yours may be more serious. Maybe your fear involves your child who is overseas serving in the military. Perhaps your situation includes a frightening medical diagnosis. Your fear may be in the form of a power struggle in your church that threatens your ministry. The list could go on and on.
I am not privy to the fears that exist within your heart, but I know they are there. We all deal with anxiety, hurt, fear, and trepidation. Here is my question to you: In what do you trust? Or, better said, In whom do you trust? Many people trust in government, or the military, or savings accounts, or medicine. All of these things can be for our good, but they are not adequate. As the psalmist wrote many years ago, “Some trust in chariots, some trust in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7).
My prayer for you is that whatever you are facing today, you will trust in the Lord. Maybe you, like me, will experience the blessing of turning to Scripture to guide you through the struggles that come your way. In your day of trouble, remember the simple promise I learned as a child and the hope I cling to today: What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.