We have all heard of phobias – a couple of the most common are:
- Autophobia – fear of being alone
- Claustrophobia – fear of confined or crowded spaces
Maybe you have never heard of these less common phobias:
- Nomophobia – Fear of being without your mobile phone
- Xanthophobia – Fear of the color yellow
- Arachibutyrophobia – Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth
In my discussions over the last few months with people in ministry, one of the main topics that we all seem to be dealing with is fear/uncertainty. Since the election and events in Washington in recent days, it seems that we are once again seeing an increase in fear in our church families.
The corona virus and the threat of the disease has occupied so much of our thinking. For months, almost every newspaper has had stories about the coronavirus pandemic on its front page. Radio and TV programs have had back-to-back coverage on the latest death tolls, and social media platforms are filled with frightening statistics.
All of us have worried that someone we know would catch the virus: our children, grandchildren, family, friends and loved ones. We are afraid when we go out. We are afraid everywhere we go. It has been a time when many have been afraid.
In these times when we are afraid, what is our answer? What should be our response? What should we do? In Psalm 56, David said in v3, ”What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” When we are afraid, what shall we do? The Psalmist tells us that we must trust in God.
Vernon McGee, talking about this passage, said: “Was David afraid? He certainly was. A couple heard me make the statement that when I travel by plane I do not enjoy the trip because there is fear in my heart. They thought there was something wrong with my faith in God. My friend, fear will bring out faith in your life. Listen to David, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” …People who sit back comfortably and say, “I haven’t any fear,” may mean that they are insensitive to the circumstances and problems that really exist. Or they may have a foolish sort of faith. David admitted he was afraid, but he trusted the Lord to take care of him.” I believe that Dr. McGee was exactly right.
We must put ourselves into God’s hands! When we are fearful, we must always remember that God is faithful. Just a few verses later, David said confidently, ”this is I know; for God is for me” (Psalm 56:9). As we look at David’s faith, we see that his faith rests in three truths that we must remember ourselves and remind our people.
The first truth is this: God Knows His People. The Psalmist says that God is watching over the days of our lives. In this Psalm, David is an exile and wanderer running from King Saul. He is bitterly persecuted, yet here, he expresses his faith – and is living happy and triumphant by faith in God.
He rejoices in how intimately God knows Him and the tenderness of God’s care. Notice in v8 the perfection of God’s knowledge. “Thou tellest” (or numberest) “my wanderings.” David was at this time an exile and wanderer, fleeing from place to place because of the ceaseless and malicious persecutions of Saul. But David was confident that all of them were counted by God. Not one was omitted. We can be sure that God knows each one of us and cares about the “wanderings” or the movements and distresses of our life.
The second truth we see in David’s life is not just that God knows, but that God Will Keep His People. In v4, David says, ”In God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.”
Our faith will strengthen us when we remember that God knows His people and that God will keep His people. The final truth that should help us respond to our fear is that God Will Keep His Promises. We read in v4, ”In God I will praise His word.” Also, in v10, ”In God will I praise His word: In the Lord will I praise His word.” Martin Luther translated these words, ”I will praise the word of God.” The Psalmist not only relied on the Lord, he also rejoiced in His Word. He knew that God kept His promise
When God tells us something, we can believe what He said and rely completely and confidently in His Word. John Wesley wrote. “I will praise the Lord for his word, for his promises of protection and deliverance, made to his people.”
Someone has said, ”You can’t break God’s promises by leaning on them.” How do we respond to the fears in our hearts and in the hearts of God’s people? We must remain established in the Word of God and the God of the Word. David said in v3, ”What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” When we are afraid, what shall we do? The Psalmist tells us that we must trust in God.