KRISTI MCCOWN | GUEST
I have a fear of driving in big cities, especially in heavy traffic with eighteen wheelers whizzing past. Anyone who has ever taught a 15-year-old how to drive knows the kind of fear I am describing. When I seek comfort for my fears, I turn to the Lord and ask Him: why am I so fearful?
Fear can be a correct response to a physical threat and God designed our bodies in such a way that we respond to such threats with a fight or flight response. It’s what gets us to respond to a fire alarm or to use our defensive driving maneuvers. In a fallen world, we’ve learned to be alert to danger, such as when we look both ways before crossing the street or to watch the weather for dangerous storms. Sometimes, our fears can lead to excessive worry, especially about an uncertain future. We find ourselves anticipating something bad to happen. Our minds focus on all the “what if” scenarios. This is a place I know quite well.
The Holy Spirit has used Psalm 77 to speak to my fears. As I read this psalm, I ask myself: What does this tell me about God? About who He is? About what has He done? The more I read it, the more I am reminded that God is greater than my fears.
Psalms 77:1 says,
“I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me.”
When we experience fear or any other kind of difficult emotion, crying out to God is the right thing to do. This is an important step in the process of lament. To lament is to bring our emotions to God through prayer and ask Him for help. The psalmist cried aloud to God, not to anyone else. I ask myself, do I run to God first in times of fear?
Psalms 77:2-9 then says,
“In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted. When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah. You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I consider the days of old, the years long ago. I said, “Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.” Then my spirit made a diligent search: “Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah.”
Have you ever been in so much pain that all you can do is groan? Physical pain? Emotional pain? When the psalmist thought about God, he groaned; he felt his pain deeply. The psalmist here was responding to God’s anger toward His people and His abandonment of them. He remembered times past when God was present with His people, and he felt agony over that loss. The psalmist then urged God to keep His covenant vows to them, to remember His steadfast love for them.
How about you? Do you ever think about God and not feel comfort? Do you ever think that maybe God has forgotten about you? Ever experience doubt? In verse 4 it says, “You hold my eyelids open.” Who has not experienced this in the middle of the night, that inability to sleep because of swirling thoughts and emotions? How can these verses give us comfort? The comfort comes from knowing that the Lord knows our fears and our doubts. He knows his children so well, He gives us verses like Mark 9:24b, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
The psalmist and the father in Mark both knew that the Lord is the source of faith. As the psalmist spoke his pain and fear to God, we see the direction of his fear turn.
Psalms 77:10 says,
“Then I said, “I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
Here is the pivot; “I will appeal… to the years of…Most High.” He remembered the promises of God from old. Remembering God’s faithfulness in the past is so important to our faith. From the beginning, God has done everything, even painful things, for our good. The next few verses we see the psalmist turn from confusion to comfort.
Psalms 77:11-15 says,
“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples. You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah.”
When we lament, God helps us remember His character. The psalmist looks to God’s powerful deeds and wonders. He reminds himself that God is great and holy. He is greater than all other gods. He alone redeems and delivers His people. God gives us the key ingredient to faith that leads to peace: Himself!
Psalms 77:16-20 then says,
“When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid; indeed, the deep trembled. The clouds poured out water; the skies gave forth thunder; your arrows flashed on every side. The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lighted up the world; the earth trembled and shook. Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen. You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”
The psalmist remembers God’s mighty act of redemption at the Exodus when He parted the Red Sea for His people to walk through to the other side. This vivid picture of God demonstrating His power over the Earth and the sea, reminds us of our own story of rescue from death that He has so graciously given us by the blood of His one and only Son!
As Romans 8:32 says: “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?”
The psalmist then remembers that God was with them in the wilderness, yet they could not see His footsteps. Can you think of a time where you couldn’t see God in the situation, then He revealed His presence? What an amazing source of comfort to know that God is right there with us leading us by the hand out of the darkness and into His marvelous light.
We live in a fallen world where fearful circumstances are unavoidable. But we have a great and mighty God to whom we can turn. We can bring our fears and appeal to the Most High. He knows our fears. He hears us when we pray. He delivers us. May these truths comfort our fearful hearts.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash