Lest We Fear….

It is better to take refuge in Yahweh than to trust in flesh.  

It is better to take refuge in Yahweh than to trust in rulers.

Psalm 118:8-9

Middle class Americans are worried about their stock portfolios, retirements, and home mortages.

Others are worried about what they will eat today, what they will wear as winter draws near.

Republicans wring their hands in worry over a future Obama administration and Democrats are terrified that McCain-Palin might actually win.

Others suffer under oppressive regimes without freedom of speech or religion.

Americans worry about the escalating cost of health care and the inconvenience of waiting roooms.

Others watch their children die from polluted water and the inaccessibility of medical care.

In whom or what do we Americans trust? Our economic investments–our treasures laid up on earth? Our political leaders–human counsel and direction?  Our military–in our “horses and chariots”? Our constitution–human wisdom and governance?

Trusting in our own resources and rulers generates fear because our resources and rulers are feeble and fallible.  When we trust in ourselves, fear will ultimately arise because we know our own faults and have seen enough of our own history. We, therefore, are either uneasy with ourselves or we are self-righteous in our confidence. Life ultimately reminds us that we are powerless over our futures. We are not in control.

Trusting in God, however, roots out fear. Trusting his love removes the shame of past failures and the fear of future realities, whatever they may be. Recognizing God’s sovereingty–his power over all things–roots out fear. Such trust is a process–never perfectly embraced but hopefully progressively learned and lived.

Believers who become so emeshed in political and economic worries, so emeshed that their hearts are filled with fear over the future and their words are peppered with derision, believe in something other than the God of the Story who loves, rules and wins.

Lest we fear, let us remember that our Father is in heaven–he is the transcendent sovereign lover, and he knows the way we take–he “knows” not only in the sense of cognition but in the sense of care, empathy, and compassion. This is the God we trust.

At the same time, while we do not trust in our own resources or rulers, we also recognize our call to co-rule this world with God and co-create the future with him. We are not isolationists but participants.  We pursue mercy, justice and faithfulness, but we leave the results with God.

Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal humans, who cannot save…

Blessed are those whose help is in the God of Jacob, whose hope is in Yahweh their God.

Yahweh reigns forever.

Psalm 146:3, 5, 10

Suggestion: Read the whole Psalm to see the hope!  :-)

 

Here it is just in case you don’t have the time to search for it…..Praise the LORD!

 1 Praise the LORD. 
       Praise the LORD, O my soul.

 2 I will praise the LORD all my life;
       I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

 3 Do not put your trust in princes,
       in mortal men, who cannot save.

 4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
       on that very day their plans come to nothing.

 5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
       whose hope is in the LORD his God,

 6 the Maker of heaven and earth,
       the sea, and everything in them—
       the LORD, who remains faithful forever.

 7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed
       and gives food to the hungry.
       The LORD sets prisoners free,

 8 the LORD gives sight to the blind,
       the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
       the LORD loves the righteous.

 9 The LORD watches over the alien
       and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
       but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

 10 The LORD reigns forever,
       your God, O Zion, for all generations.
       Praise the LORD.



14 Responses to “Lest We Fear….”

  1.   Lloyd Says:

    I can only give a hearty amen. I actually blogged about these sentiments a couple of days ago, but this is, predictably, more eloquent and insightful.

    It is so tempting for those of us who love democracy and who fear tyranny or the destruction of our government to resort to strict survivalism.

    No guns, no supplies, and no treasure will save us. Even if they would save our flesh, the spirit remains outside of their influence.

  2.   weswoodell Says:

    Great perspective – great post.

  3. Profile photo of Philip Cunningham III  Philip III Says:

    While I agree with just about all the sentiments of this post, I hope that we don’t use our worldview as an excuse for some form of escapism or excusing ourselves from social responsibility. Dismissiveness in the name of God isn’t godly at all.

    I’m not accusing anyone of this. I’m just hoping that our heightened sense of perspective & awareness isn’t mistaken or misappropriated as an attitude that says, “I’m holier than thou who watches the news.”

  4.   Q Says:

    Philip,

    I think it’s less of a call to become disengaged and more of a call to become truly engaged — but with the whole world and all of its wonders and suffering rather than a myopic view of our little corner. Yes, what happens in the States does have an effect on the world, but it is not the world.

    There are many hurting, starving, dying the world around (and next door, for sufficient values of “next”) — be engaged, but don’t forget what we’re here for. At least that’s my impression of what JMH has been saying all along.

  5. Profile photo of John Mark Hicks  John Mark Hicks Says:

    Philip,

    It seems odd to me for you to warn about something that the post does not promote or imply. I accept your first paragraph as non-accusatory though I wonder what generates it in the context of the post.

    To counsel that we should trust God rather than our politicians and that we should partner with God in shaping the world does not lend itself to a holier than thou attitude or to disengagement.

    I think Q’s point is on target. I think that is what I think. :-) I hope it is what I wrote. :-)

  6.   weswoodell Says:

    I was emailed a very encouraging article today by Chuck Colson on this very subject.

    Check it out:
    http://www.crosswalk.com/news/commentary/11581878/

  7. Profile photo of Philip Cunningham III  Philip III Says:

    Thank you for giving me the benefit of the doubt & taking me at my word. :)

    I don’t read everything in the blogosphere, but I at least try to stay connected enough to catch plenty of headlines & snippets. The sentiments expressed in this blog entry are similar to other sentiments that I’ve seen expressed elsewhere in Christendom at large.

    Also I am aware, and have even heard it expressed quite recently, that this is often the time of year where folks really grow weary of politics (especially with the growing number of political ads). That’s understandable; folks have their limits. Its even more understandable this year given all the drama we’ve all experienced on a national stage from just the Presidential primaries alone! Many folks reach a critical mass in terms of conversation/commentary on social issues to the point where they just begin to tune it all out entirely.

    I think that there’s a sense in which this blog entry taps into people’s general dissatisfaction vis-a-vis that critical mass. Let me make it clear that this assessment isn’t intended to be negatively judgmental. To put it in normal terms, Seinfeld might say, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that!” :)

    All I intended to do was temper the tone & tenor of your entry with a warning for other readers against going to an undesirable extreme. I certainly didn’t intend to backhandedly demean or passive-aggressively disagree with anything you wrote. If you had been preaching, and I’d been in the audience, I would have voiced an “Amen.”

    I hope that clarifies my intentions, as well as “the context,” for you. Thanks for all you do

  8.   James Riddick Says:

    As usual, your gift for taking scripture and putting it into language that deals with “real-life issues” and current political tendencies has been a blessing. On Wednesday, I am leading a worship service at Highland c of C. Rodney Plunkett will be speaking and the title of his talk is “kNOw Fear”. The idea is that the fear of the Lord removes other fears and timidity in our lives. I am assuming that he will focus on faith in God’s sovereignty and our filial reverence… the “perfect love that drives out all fear.”

    I have been frantically searching for ways to apply this not only in the individual sense but the communal and global sense as well. Your words and the passages that you quoted have evoked so many ideas that will hopefully aid Rodney in making this message “real”. :)

    Thank you, John Mark. As a young and inexperienced worship minister and growing Christian, I have been constantly inspired and challenged by you and I believe that Sycamore View was so blessed by your ministry.

    James Riddick

  9.   preacherman Says:

    Wonderful post!
    Great news for us as believers.
    I have found that when I put my complete trust and faith in God he provides what “I need”. Yes, things aren’t always the way I want them to turn out but God knows what is best. Praise God for his willingness to hear the cries of the oppressed, depressed, and hurting. Not only does he listen but acts. I am praying for our nation and Christians worldwide. John please continue to encourage and challenge our faith in Christ. You do a fantastic job with this blog. Hope you have a blessed week! :-)

  10.   Terrell Lee Says:

    To fear is to see through one’s own eyes.
    To have confidence is to see through God’s eyes.
    Easily understood; hard to practice.

  11.   benwiles Says:

    You can tell a lot about a person by what (s)he is afraid of.

    The Pharisee fears exposure, and works to prevent it. The materialist fears physical loss, and works to prevent it. The Christian fears souls being cast into hell, and works to prevent it.

  12.   Tim Archer Says:

    Oh, come on… you don’t really believe all that trust in God stuff, do you?

    You know, someone ought to think about putting “In God We Trust” on objects that Christians typically carry around. Then we might remember it!

    Grace and peace,
    Tim

  13.   K. Rex Butts Says:

    Another fine post.

    At the congregation I serve, we are reading through the Gospel of Mark in our Sunday Bible class and paying attention to the call of discipleship. I told them that I believe most Christians mean well but that FEAR is the biggest challenge we face in trying to embrace our call to discipleship. We fear ministering to the lepers because of the danger they confront us with. We fear trusting the authority of this lunatic Jesus who challenges all the existing authority. We fear the storm that ravage the sea. And we fear trhe cross because rather than seeing it as God’s power to redeem the world, we see it as the world’s sword to control the non-conformists.

    When we put our faith in anyone (or thing) besides God, we have good reason to fear.

    Lord help us to have faith in you alone!

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  14.   Sheila Says:

    Thanks for this, John Mark. As I wrote on a friend’s blog the other day (a British woman living in France and saying she was frightened by the American political situation)–having lived in Croatia during the war has made me care more about politics, but fear less about how things go.

    I think living in trust is the only way to make truly wise decisions and be involved in a healthy way, without getting polarized the way people do when they act out of fear.

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