At the end of the day, we need to “fear” the Lord, which means we need to have a deep reverence for him, our lives profoundly oriented to him and his ways. Over fifty times in the psalms, the writer calls us to “fear” Yahweh. So a very important aspect of rooting out unhealthy fear has to do with orienting our lives to a deep reverence for and worship of God; we need to bow before him, and worship and thank him regularly to put life in perspective. This dispels unhealthy fear.
Let me be honest. At this stage of life, I sometimes struggle with fear. That gut-wrenching, cloud of dread that descends in the dead of night, shooting “what ifs” at my mind and heart. I can fear for my wife, my kids, myself. I am tempted to be afraid about finances, or illness, or the future. I fear incompetence, or making mistakes, or insignificance. Do you know what I mean?
Fear can be paralyzing, shutting down our initiative and stifling real progress and joy. While there are healthy forms of fear, in its less than healthy manifestations, fear fights against trust in God’s good care.
So, when I am struggling with fear, I find meditating on the Psalms a great help and comfort. Here are 6 ways in which that wonderful “song book” for life helps me to process my fears, bringing them to the Lord.
1. The Psalms Encourage Me to Be Honest with God about My Fears
One thing I love about the Bible is its honesty about life. It speaks to life as it really is in the real world, stares that reality in the face, and points us to God. The psalmist at times bears his heart, telling us explicitly about his struggles, giving us permission to be honest about our own. On one occasion he had been betrayed by a friend, and a crowd were gathering against him. He writes,
My heart beats violently within me; the horrors of death overcome me. 5 Fear and panic overpower me; terror overwhelms me. 6 I say, “I wish I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and settle in a safe place!”
(Ps 55:4–6 NET)
Have you ever felt like that? Yet, the psalmist looks to the Lord:
16 But I call to God, and the LORD will save me. 17 I complain and groan morning, noon, and night, and He hears my voice. 18 Though many are against me, He will redeem me from my battle unharmed.
(Ps 55:16–18 HCSB)
So the psalms give us a voice for the fears we experience and points us to the Lord in the midst of them.
2. The Psalms Point Me to the Word of God as More Significant than the Words of Others
We all have times when we experience fear of what others think and say about us. People can cause real damage to our lives, so the threat may be serious. The psalmist cries out,
Do not give me over to the will of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
(Ps 27:12 HCSB)
Yet, the psalmist in another place confesses
3 When I am afraid,
I will trust in You. 4 In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I will not fear.
What can man do to me? (Ps 56:3–4 HCSB)
What God says about us is what counts. His character can be trusted; he offers us true stability in life.