Facing Fear

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What do you picture when you hear or read the phrase “no fear”? Can you envision the logo of the American fashion apparel company so named? No Fear began in 1989 as “an extreme sports brand with added attitudes.” The brand encourages its wearers to show no fear in the face of overwhelming odds. If you dig deep enough, you’ll find the strength to you need to laugh in the face of fear.

Have you noticed how large a role fear plays in the Psalms? Time and again, the psalmists admit their fear and ask the Lord to deliver them from fear. Time and again they confess that they have no reason for fear, given their trust in the Lord.

Consider, for example, the opening words of Psalm 27: “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?” (v. 1). We are given no clue in the text itself as to the circumstances that led David to write these words, but we know that he frequently was assailed by people and circumstances that would inspire fear in anyone. He knew that, with God on his side, there was no real reason for fear. Nevertheless, the struggle was real, and he realised that something needed to be done to face his fears.

What was his solution? Simply this:  “One thing I have asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to enquire in his temple” (v. 4). David’s solution to fear was worship. As he took time to “dwell in the house of the LORD” he knew that his perspective would shift. “For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his ted; he will lift me high upon a rock” (v. 5).

If you are human, you know what it is to experience fear. Fear might strike in the form of an unfavourable health report, the betrayal of a friend, a crisis at work, or the suffering of a loved one. It might flood your soul with dread and anxiety. You might find yourself unable to think straight, to concentrate, to pray, or to perform basic functions. Fear can be paralysing—understandably so. When fear grips us, we must know how to respond. And we must know where to go to build a healthy response.

David knew that the Lord was inviting him to worship: “You have said, ‘Seek my face.’ My heart says to you, ‘Your face, LORD, do I seek’” (v. 8). Of course, he knew he could do that in his private capacity, but he also seems to have recognised the benefit of doing so in community, which is why he so desired to be “in [God’s] temple”—the corporate gathering of God’s people. In the corporate gathering, as he worshipped with other worshippers, he knew he would find strength to face his trials without fear.

We have just come out of a week in which we have faced difficulties, some more than others. We anticipate a new week in which we will face further difficulties, some more than others. We will face the temptation to fear. We need to know how to combat fear. Psalm 27 tells us to face fear with worship. Yes, with private worship, but more so, with worship in the context of community.

Doug recently referenced a Barna report, from an American perspective, which found that, during lockdown/quarantine, one third of formerly “practicing Christians” have stopped engaging entirely in church worship (online or otherwise), one third have begun to church hop to churches other than their own, while the remaining third have maintained their commitment to worshipping with their own people. I’d like to think that BBC is different. We need to be.

Now is not the time to disengage. Now is the time to refocus. Now is the time to cry with David, “Your face, LORD, do I seek” (v. 8) and to do so, in whatever way you can, “in his temple” (v. 4). It is easy right now to disengage from worship. Don’t do it. If you do, you will likely find yourself overwhelmed with fear. Now, as always, we must counter fear with worship.

Let’s worship God together and drive out fear.

Stuart