Trusting God in Times Like These1
In case of emergency: Panic! These were my sarcastic and discouraging “words of the day” on March 9. Each day, I flip to the next “discouraging words” on my daily calendar—a wonderful gift from my beautiful bride. (She gets me.) On that day, the writer was ironically prophetic. By the end of the day, the stock market had plummeted, the coronavirus continued to soar, and an eery sense of fear had settled on our connected society. Panic! We did, and we still are. Although we may be fairly untouched in my neck of the woods, the reality will kick in when items on the grocery shelves grow scarce.
An unsettling sense of fear has gripped the hearts of many unlike anything we have seen in quite some time. Some of us are more prone to panic, seemingly overwhelmed by the thought that life could be drastically changed; others of us react oppositely, feeling like there is “nothing to see here.” Neither reaction is probably best or helpful. The reality is this: the world is panicked—confirmed recently by my brother-in-law’s struggle to find any hand sanitizer, bottled water, or toilet paper in a city of over 200,000 with no known cases of COVD-19.
Fear is a powerful emotion. It can keep us from doing what we ought, and it can motivate us to do what we never thought capable. It is a universal emotion, felt by all. Therefore, it should not be surprising that the Lord has something to say about fear—more than something. The single, most repeated command in the Bible is to not fear (over 200 times). The Lord knows our frailties, knows our fears, and speaks directly to them.
David, the great psalmist of Israel—a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13:14), frequently experienced fear. We know this because he wrote many of the psalms, and in many of the psalms he petitions the Lord to intervene in fearful situation after fearful situation. One of those situations lies in Psalm 27. All that we can gather from this psalm is that David found himself being pursued by his enemies and the recipient of betrayal. He felt as if his own parents had betrayed him (v. 10), and his enemy’s attack was relentless (v. 2). It is one thing to succumb to the “random” transmission of a virus; it is quite another to be actively targeted by an enemy.
That is the situation that David found himself in when he offered up these perspective-changing questions in verse 1: “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?” I think David knew his own heart. He knew his tendency to wander and predict the worst; therefore, he started with these questions. He needed to remind himself that God has proved himself faithful as his Savior. God had redeemed him. He had pulled him out of the darkest and scariest place possible. How could God not be faithful even in the midst of this new, fear-inducing situation?
David’s questions are worth asking during these panic driven times. They provide perspective. Yes, the presence of a pandemic looms large. Wisdom invites us to make necessary adjustments, but instructs us to avoid panicking. If you know Christ, God has proven his faithfulness. His faithfulness has not diminished in the shadow cast by COVD-19, even as its shadow overtakes us. We are his children and can proclaim with confidence, “The Lord is my light and salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”