3 Steps to Conquer Fear (Reflection on Psalm 34:4)

Psalm 34:4 I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.
He freed me from all my fears.

Eat and Run

I walked into the McDonald’s because the drive-thru was packed. There, waiting in line was a man who had already ordered. He looked at me and said, “Wow. I can’t believe people are so lazy they would rather wait in the long drive-thru line rather than Psalm 344 [widescreen]coming inside. There’s no one in here! He was right. The place was empty.

Drive-thru lines get longer and longer it seems. Some places are even putting in two drive-thru lanes to deal with the increased use. Why? Are people really lazy? Or have we become so busy that sitting in the car answering email, or talking on the phone as we pick up our food and eat on the way to our next activity seems the best use of our time? Some of us are so busy a “sit down meal” means eating in our car as we drive to our next meeting. With so much to do, we fear taking time out to eat will put us behind.

Delivered

My eyes fall to verse 4 where David writes, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.”

That’s a powerful statement considering Saul was trying to kill David and David was running for his life. Saul had the entire Israel army at his disposal while David only had a few hundred men. David had every reason to be afraid, yet, God delivered him from all his fears.

Fear Factor

We don’t have to have someone trying to kill us to be afraid. Fear influences all of our decisions, even when we don’t know it. While fear helps us survive, fight or flight and all that, most of us don’t have to worry much about tigers, lions, and bears (oh my). Our fear is of a different nature.

We are afraid of missing out (FOMO), losing what we have, not getting what we need, upsetting others, being misunderstood, being rejected, just to name a few. Perhaps our biggest fear is making mistakes or failure. We may even decide to play it safe and stick to our ‘comfort zone.’ Comfort zones are nice because we can handle anything there. While our comfort zone is void of fear, it can limit our faithfulness to God.

Fear of losing a job causes workers to “just do what they are told” instead of putting their whole self into their work. Fear of missing out causes us to spend weekend after weekend on ball diamonds, soccer fields, basketball courts, dance recitals, and other activities. While we enjoy the events, fear that if our children aren’t fully involved, they will miss out on future scholarships is what drives us. Some children start playing organized sports at 4 or 5 years old because parents believe if they don’t their future will be limited and they won’t have as good of a life as they could.

Why are we so fearful? Because we have lost our center and we believe we are on our own. David, in this Psalm, praises God because God had delivered David from all his fears. David gives us guidance on how we can be delivered from our fears as well.

3 Steps to Be Delivered from Fear

Notice David’s progression:

1) I Sought the Lord
2) The Lord answered
3) He delivered me from all my fears

This three step process seems simple, but it isn’t easy. We all want #3, but #1 can be a problem. David sought the Lord. He was a seeker. He was seeking God in the midst of his fear as he was running. In other psalms (Psalm 5:3) David writes about seeking God in the morning. Because David sought God, God answered.

How can we expect God to answer, when we don’t fully seek him?

Habits

Do we seek the Lord, so that the Lord can answer us? What’s your habit of seeking God?

When David heard God answer, he knew he was delivered. God answered, because David was intentional to seek God. My fear is that we have become a culture who talks about seeking God, but don’t. Instead of intentional, focused, time with God, we pray “on the run” or try to “multi-task” God into our lives. God has become like our lunch…we head to the drive-thru, pick up our food, and eat as we are on the way to somewhere else. Such a meal keeps us going, but doesn’t feed our soul.

Seeking God

When we seek God, God answers. When God answers, we discover we are not alone. When we realize we are not alone, our fear dissipates. The process begins when we spend focused, intentional, time with God.

God may not answer the way we want him to answer. It has taken me years to come to terms with God not answering me the way I wanted. What I have discovered is that God answers with his presence, which, I find ends up being much better than the answer I was looking for. In Jeremiah, God makes this promise, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with your whole heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) That promise, when realized, drives away all fear.

A Sure Hope – Psalm 33:1-22

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Reflection on Psalm 33:1-22.

Hope in God Alone

I love the last line of this Psalm, “Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you (Psalm 33:22).” As the Psalmist scans creation, he sees evidence of God’s love. The world breathes with God’s handiwork. When the Psalmist looks around in awe of all that God is and all that God does, he knows, hope in anything other than God is false hope.

Promises, Promises

I want to echo with the Psalmist, “my hope is in you alone Lord,” but I keep putting my hope in what I can see and touch. I don’t have a warhorse or army, but I do have a checking and savings account, along with credit cards. As I reflect on this Psalm, I ask, “Where have I put my hope?”

I want to put my hope in God alone, but it isn’t easy. Culture continues to offer so many options promising to give me my heart’s desire! Far too many times, I’ve placed my hope in places other than God. I would like to think that I place my hope in God too, but placing my hope in God too isn’t placing my hope in God alone. Maybe I have a God+ kind of hope. Yes, I hope with God, but God isn’t always enough.

Performance

I hate to admit it, but I believe the promises of culture, pushing God out of the center of my life. The Psalmist doesn’t just look at promises, he also looks at performance. He looks at God’s work and sees love. He looks at warhorses and armies, and knows they don’t bring victory. In the end, God brings victory.

Broken Promises

Culture does make a lot of promises. I am told if I am able to afford the “good life” then I will be happy, or if I can just find the right house, or the right spouse, or the right this, or that, or the other thing, then I will find happiness, be content, and everything will be wonderful.

All I need to do is take a look at those who have bought into those promises and where they end up; broken, wounded, and disappointed. All I need is look at the rich and famous and see how many of them have been given false hope and live with broken dreams. They may be rich, famous, or powerful, but it seems like they can’t find what they are really looking for.

Do I really need to discover this disappointment myself?

Hope in God, Alone

The Psalmist puts his hope in God alone, knowing that God’s unfailing love surrounds him. Warhorses and armies might promise victory, but the Psalmist knew the results weren’t so sure. God’s love surrounds you and me too. We can put our hope in many things that promise much, only to be disappointed again and again while having them offer more promises if we only just keep on believing.

When we align our lives with God’s purposes, we discover that we can hope in God alone because he keeps his promises. When we are open and receptive to God’s will and way, we discover his abundant life unfolding in our lives every day. As we journey with him, may we cry out with the Psalmist, “Let your unfailing love surround us, for our hope is in you alone.”

NOTE: Aligning our lives with God’s purpose, at least from my experience, is not easy. It seems simple, but easy and simple are two different things. Aligning our will with God’s will can be a lifetime project. We continue to want to go our own way and culture is right there cheering us on. Only when we surrender to God’s will and live out the prayer, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done…” will we find peace, fulfillment, and purpose, such that the world can never provide.Then is when we discover, not only God’s love surrounding us, but how we can hope in God alone.

Morning Reflection 3/26/12 – Psalm 31

Psalm 31

For the choir director: A psalm of David.

1 O LORD, I have come to you for protection;
don’t let me be disgraced.
Save me, for you do what is right.
2 Turn your ear to listen to me;
rescue me quickly.
Be my rock of protection,
a fortress where I will be safe.
3 You are my rock and my fortress.
For the honor of your name, lead me out of this danger.
4 Pull me from the trap my enemies set for me,
for I find protection in you alone.
5 I entrust my spirit into your hand.
Rescue me, LORD, for you are a faithful God.

6 I hate those who worship worthless idols.
I trust in the LORD.
7 I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love,
for you have seen my troubles,
and you care about the anguish of my soul.
8 You have not handed me over to my enemies
but have set me in a safe place.

9 Have mercy on me, LORD, for I am in distress.
Tears blur my eyes.
My body and soul are withering away.
10 I am dying from grief;
my years are shortened by sadness.
Sin has drained my strength;
I am wasting away from within.
11 I am scorned by all my enemies
and despised by my neighbors—
even my friends are afraid to come near me.
When they see me on the street,
they run the other way.
12 I am ignored as if I were dead,
as if I were a broken pot.
13 I have heard the many rumors about me,
and I am surrounded by terror.
My enemies conspire against me,
plotting to take my life. Continue reading “Morning Reflection 3/26/12 – Psalm 31”

Morning Reflection 3/21/2012 – Psalm 28

Prayer for Help and Thanksgiving for It

Of David.

1 To you, O Lord, I call;
my rock, do not refuse to hear me,
for if you are silent to me,
I shall be like those who go down to the Pit.
2 Hear the voice of my supplication,
as I cry to you for help,
as I lift up my hands
toward your most holy sanctuary.a
3 Do not drag me away with the wicked,
with those who are workers of evil,
who speak peace with their neighbors,
while mischief is in their hearts.
4 Repay them according to their work,
and according to the evil of their deeds;
repay them according to the work of their hands;
render them their due reward.
5 Because they do not regard the works of the Lord,
or the work of his hands,
he will break them down and build them up no more.
6 Blessed be the Lord,
for he has heard the sound of my pleadings.
7 The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts;
so I am helped, and my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.
8 The Lord is the strength of his people;
he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
9 O save your people, and bless your heritage;
be their shepherd, and carry them forever.

via Psalm 28:4 (NRSV) – Biblia.com.

Where do you go when you need help? Where do you go when you need a friend? Where do you go when your world is crashing down around you? No matter what he was facing, David knew he could turn to God.

There are many places we can turn when we run into a rough patch in life. We might call a good friend, take some money out of our savings account, or pull out a credit card. I find those of us who are rich (which would be most anybody reading this, especially if you live in the US) have resources we can utilize when things get tough. Continue reading “Morning Reflection 3/21/2012 – Psalm 28”

Morning Reflection 3/20/12 – Psalm 27


 

 

Triumphant Song of Confidence

Of David.

 

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation;

whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life;

of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When evildoers assail me

to devour my flesh—

my adversaries and foes—

they shall stumble and fall.

3 Though an army encamp against me,

my heart shall not fear;

though war rise up against me,

yet I will be confident.

4 One thing I asked of the Lord,

that will I seek after:

to live in the house of the Lord

all the days of my life,

to behold the beauty of the Lord,

and to inquire in his temple.

5 For he will hide me in his shelter

in the day of trouble;

he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;

he will set me high on a rock.

6 Now my head is lifted up

above my enemies all around me,

and I will offer in his tent

sacrifices with shouts of joy;

I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud,

be gracious to me and answer me!

8 “Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!”

Your face, Lord, do I seek.

9 Do not hide your face from me.

Do not turn your servant away in anger,

you who have been my help.

Do not cast me off, do not forsake me,

O God of my salvation!

10 If my father and mother forsake me,

the Lord will take me up.

11 Teach me your way, O Lord,

and lead me on a level path

because of my enemies.

12 Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries,

for false witnesses have risen against me,

and they are breathing out violence.

13 I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord

in the land of the living.

14 Wait for the Lord;

be strong, and let your heart take courage;

wait for the Lord!

 

Trust is something that isn’t given. Trust is earned. Reading through the various psalms I find  that David knows that he can trust God, because God has always been trustworthy.

I tend to forget that God can be trusted. When the enemy crowds around and I fear that war is drawing near, fear starts telling me I’m alone. If I believe what fear tells me, I forget that God is trustworthy. The higher my fear, the lower my trust. However, the higher my trust, the lower my fear. When I trust God, fear flees.

David trusted God. That is why he is able to write what he does. That is why he is able to wait for the lord and take courage. God had “earned” his trust time and time again. No matter what was going on around him, David knew he could trust and he did.