Jill confides that the recent spate of lay-offs at her husband’s company makes her fear that he’s next, and so she hasn’t been sleeping well. The mother who’s recently heard of a young boy’s death obsesses that one of her sons may be next. The woman in her mid-twenties is consumed with fears that she’ll never marry. The pregnant Sheila, who’s miscarried before, so fears the possibility of losing this child that she’s practically immobilized.
How should a Christian deal with her frequent fears? How does she counsel and stabilize herself when assaulted by a crippling dread about what might happen in days to come? What is the biblically prescribed tranquilizer for the calming of our worried heads, when faced with the prospects of emotional paralysis?
“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride” (Psalm 46:1-3).
The urged strategy in handling our fears is not to statistically dispel them: “Oh, the odds are against that calamity’s ever happening.” It’s not to sentimentally disqualify them: “Oh, your heavenly Father would never let such a bad thing happen.” And it’s not to forgetfully suppress them: “Oh, just refuse to think about it.” Instead the urged strategy is to courageously face them. That’s right – face our fears head on.
The Psalm calls me to boldly entertain the possible prospects of my home being buried, our business going up in flames, my town being leveled in a quake, my children being swept away in a flood, and my spouse being killed in the wreckage. I may shrink back from this approach to dealing with my fears, claiming it’s too negative, or morbid, or pessimistic. But this is not morbid pessimism. It’s godly realism. These things may indeed happen! And it’s not for us to traffic in deception or evasion or suppression, but in reality, honesty, and integrity. Charles Spurgeon, whose sermon on Psalm 46 is entitled “Earthquake but not Heartquake”, well summarizes its thesis: “This is the doctrine of the Psalm: Happen what may, the Lord’s people are happy and secure.”
Though our world may collapse all around us, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) He will never leave or forsake us. He’ll be our shelter in the quake, our rock in the flood, our friend in the flames, “Therefore we will not fear”.
Our true consolation is found when we face head on the absolute worst case scenario of what may indeed happen. Then in the midst, we reckon His promise of His presence as “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
*For a fuller treatment, see Womanly Dominion, More than a Gentle and Quiet Spirit by Mark Chanski (Calvary Press), Chapter 11 Facing Your Fears, pp. 179-192.