Living in Fear or Certainty

Earthquakes in Hatti and China.  Landslides in Brazil and Kenya.  Floods in Tennessee.  Oil spills in the Gulf.  A volcano in Iceland that disrupts travel and almost takes down an industry.  Terrorist plots in Times Square.  Economic upheaval and political meltdowns.  The threat of renegade nations with nuclear capability.  And then there are our daily lives.  It is easy to live in fear these days.  I have begun to wonder if one of the downsides to social networking and a truly connected global society is that we are over aware of life in a fallen world.  We know everything in real time.  I am watching people shrink back-trying to protect and insulate themselves from any harm.  Whenever I travel to the States I become keenly aware how afraid people are of Islam and immigration.  I don’t mean rational awareness and thoughtful dialogue-I mean fear.  No doubt the media plays upon this.  Most of the “good” stories are predicated upon fear.  And I can fall prey to the unending barrage of knowledge that presses in on me and tries to force me into hiding.  Where do we turn?

As a follower of Christ I have a true alternative.  God’s revelation in the Bible points me to a sovereign God.  This is never more evident than in Psalm 46.  Listen to how the psalmist begins: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear . . . ”  The writer goes on in verses 2-5 to take note of nature and all of her fragility.  But he points us to the Creator who put it there in the first place and reminds us that He is in the midst of all created things.  This is not pantheism-this is God who is in control and is taking all of history towards His ends.  In verses 6-7 the psalmist addresses the threat of nations.  He accurately describes how they can “rage” and “totter”-but with one utterance of God’s voice they melt and do His bidding.  Verse 7 reminds us, “the Lord of hosts is with us.”  The “withness” of God is a very strong theme throughout the Old Testament and finds its culmination in Jesus Christ in the New Testament.  And note that it is the Lord of hosts-this is metaphor for our Warrior God with all of His heavenly army-a picture of total strength to match our fear.

The psalmist gives us three antidotes to our fears over a broken creation and a broken political world:  “Come, behold the works of the Lord”,  “Be still and know that I am God”, and “The Lord of hosts is with us”.  First he tells us that the One who created it all is still in control of it all.  Second, he tells us that God will be exalted among all the nations and in the earth.  Third, the One who is transcendent is also immanent-meaning the One who is all powerful and able to control is also deeply personal and able to meet us where we are.

If I pay more attention to the media of our day than the living media of God’s word then I will continue to retreat.  But if I “behold”, “be still” and rightly consider then I will engage in faith and confidence that the God of the universe revealed in Jesus Christ is in control and is with me in all that He calls me to do.  The true alternative to fear is faith in the one true living God.

2 responses to “Living in Fear or Certainty

  1. Susan Merrill

    What an encouraging and Truth-filled writing! You and your family are in my prayers.

  2. Hey Gary,

    Providence is such that I also have been noticing and speaking about the same marginless, (at least) obsessive, (sometimes) addictive attention folks pay to current events. As you noted, this multi-media myopia leaves them fearful.

    In my development work it is keenly noticeable in the oh-so-measureable currency of dollars and cents! As such, I have found that one of my roles has been to come along side ministry partners in optimistic hope, and the long view of Providential care. My approach to both major donor development and MPD is “open heart surgery-like…”

    Thanks for your words on fear and faith. I’ll, like you, choose the latter… by God’s grace.

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