The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.
One of the things I love about the Bible is how honest it is. It doesn’t act like life is easier and cleaner that it is, and it doesn’t try to hide the flaws and weaknesses of people we often regard as “heroes.” The Bible also isn’t afraid to make enormous promises and claims about Who God is. It fleshes out what happens when those enormous promises and claims meet real people in real life. This encourages me because it means the gospel isn’t just something we talk and sing about on Sunday mornings, but it is a life-changing power that meets us in every single minute, situation, place, struggle, joy, and relationship on Monday through Saturday. That includes the present Coronavirus situation that we are in.
While this season of a pandemic uniquely causes and brings out the fear and anxiety in our hearts, if we’re being honest, there’s something about human nature that naturally struggles with fear and insecurity. These types of extreme experiences just magnify and even reveal it.
I recently was on a one-month sabbatical, and one of the realizations I came to when I finally slowed down and quieted all the normal noise and busyness of life is that I struggle with fear more than I think I do. This can look like fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of the future, and so on. Studies show that our society is far more anxious and worried than ever before. Additionally, as a middle school minister, research also shows that teenagers are more stressed than at any other time in history, but my observation is that it has become so ingrained in our culture that they often just see a high-stress and high-fear life as their normal scenario!
Thankfully, God gives us a precious gift that meets us where we are in Psalm 27. I want to mention two truths from Psalm 27:1-3 that will hopefully encourage and re-orient us in this season that we find ourselves in:
(1) In a time of fear and uncertainty, David starts with God. During this pandemic, it is tempting for me to start with the news, what others are saying, where my own logic takes me, and many other places. Not that those things do not have their place, but David reminds me that the place my mind needs to be dwelling the most is God Himself. A.W. Tozer once wrote, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Because God is David’s light (his source of guidance and direction), salvation (his savior, rescuer, and deliverer), the stronghold of his life (his shelter and refuge), David claims that he does not have to live in fear. Instead of meditating on the news, my own logic, or what others are saying, real peace is found in meditating on Who God is and what He’s done.
(2) In a time of fear and uncertainty, David applies his theology to his life. David doesn’t just keep these truths about God in a church, Bible study, or in his mind. Instead, he takes them with him into his daily life. In verses 2 and 3, he applies the truths about God in verse 1 to real situations in his life, situations that are very difficult. We need to be asking the same thing that David did: how does what I know about Who God is apply to my specific instances of fear today?
The truth is that we will all experience fear and uncertainty, and we are all looking for help and for a remedy. What this psalm reminds us is that when we know God’s character, that is the remedy we need and the remedy that increases our confidence in God’s care, the ultimate expression of which is seen on the cross: when the all-powerful, completely sovereign God demonstrated His love for sinners like you and me (Romans 5:8). “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).