1 The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Should I fear anyone?
The Lord is a fortress protecting my life.
Should I be frightened of anything?
2 When evildoers come at me trying to eat me up—
it’s they, my foes and my enemies,
who stumble and fall!
3 If an army camps against me,
my heart won’t be afraid.
If war comes up against me,
I will continue to trust in this:
4 I have asked one thing from the Lord—
it’s all I seek:
to live in the Lord’s house all the days of my life,
seeing the Lord’s beauty
and constantly adoring his temple.
5 Because he will shelter me in his own dwelling
during troubling times;
he will hide me in a secret place in his own tent;
he will set me up high, safe on a rock.
6 Now my head is higher than the enemies surrounding me,
and I will offer sacrifices in God’s tent—
sacrifices with shouts of joy!
I will sing and praise the Lord.
Fear, once it’s taken hold, is an almost impossible thing to talk ourselves out of. Fear is immobilizing. Paralyzing. It leaves us feeling like we don’t have options.
One of my former district superintendents – a pastor whom I dearly loved and dearly miss, as she’s gone on to glory – used to say, “You can’t have fear and faith at the same time.” I hear the echoes of that in today’s psalm: “The Lord is my light and my salvation. Should I fear anyone? The Lord is a fortress protecting my life. Should I be frightened of anything?”
I would never go so far as to say that a person of faith can’t or shouldn’t feel fear. That’s an impossible standard. I’m convinced even Jesus felt fear – isn’t that what his prayer in the Garden represents? Honestly, both faith and fear are necessary. Someone who is never afraid is probably a danger to themselves and to others.
Rev. McCleary often invoked this saying when I was pondering what to do. And I think her point was this: people of faith don’t let their fear keep them stuck. People of faith keep moving forward, moving through their fear into the future.
When we embrace faith, we find ourselves held in God’s strong hand – quite literally the strongest hand imaginable. The hand that created the universe. The hand that has shaped history over millions of years.
When you step back from your life, from the decisions that feel so difficult and immobilizing, can you come back to the psalmist’s questions?
Should I fear anyone? Should I be frightened of anything?
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
What purpose does fear serve in the Christian life? How do you know when it has the upper hand?
Prayer: When we feel paralyzed by fear, Lord, remind us that fear has its place, but that it doesn’t need to take first place. Bring back to our minds who it is that we serve. Amen.
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