When I Am Afraid

When I am afraid I put my trust in you. In God whose word I praise, in God I trust, I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?
— Psalm 56:3-4

What fears are swirling in your mind as you begin your week? Is it the paper that is due in that difficult class? Is it the overwhelming workload left on your desk from Friday afternoon? Is it a difficult conversation with a friend? Is it a hard relationship at home or an uncertain doctor’s appointment? Whatever the fear is, one thing is certain: in the mind of the fearful one, it can seem like an impassable mountain.

David had much to be afraid of when he wrote this Psalm. He was fleeing from Saul, the Philistines had seized him, and he was now in enemy territory. He stares his fears in the face and speaks to them: “What can flesh do to me?”

Sometimes our fears are over genuinely fearful things. Sometimes, though, our fears are over a lack of perceived control. So often my fear is translated as, “I don’t trust your goodness in this situation.” When I was single it was fear that a guy I liked would not like me back and then I would be left single forever. Now that I am married, so many of my fears revolve around the future and my relationship with my husband. What if God doesn’t give me the five children I hope for? What if my husband does not make the decision I want him to make?

Many of us spend so much of the moments of fear immersed in the fears themselves. The Psalmist makes a conscious decision not to do that. Yes, the fears are frightening—sometimes rightly so. But in my own life, I have found that I need to spend a lot less time indulging my fears, and more time giving them to God. He knows the outcome of them anyways.

He holds the outcome, and the circumstances of our fears, in the very palm of his hand. They are not lost to him. He is watching over every detail of every fear that we face—big or small. Because of his work for us we can look at our fears today and say with David, “what can flesh do to me?”