Tight chested when I had to speak with certain people in a meeting or by phone, or wide awake in the middle of the night, I didn’t know what it was at the time, but now as an adult I know. I’m thankful that it wasn’t something that stayed with me beyond my teenage years, except for that occasional flare up, because anxiety and fear can be paralyzing.
I have many friends and people that I minister to that are in its deadly grip and it is so hard to watch, and even harder for them to endure. But God gives us hope! Hope that through faith in Him we might be able to set free… maybe even permanently if we can just let go and truly and fully trust in His promises.
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; 6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. 7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. 8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Psalm 91:5–8. KJV
The first four verses of Psalm 91 speak of the Lord almighty doing everything in His almighty power to protect us: providing our own secret place, under His shadows, in His refuge and in His fortress, freed from the enemies traps, covered with His feathers, His wings and two shields. I’d say that’s pretty protected! And yet, we still feel fear.
In verses five through eight, the Psalmist goes further to reassure us that peace and rest is possible. Anything that could come our way… He has thought of and can protect us from. Whether it is the fear that keeps us up at night, or the attacks that might come in the day, His shields can withstand.
I envision someone on the frontlines of a battlefield, weary and exhausted, finally finding themselves someplace where they can close their eyes and sleep. They trust that where they find themselves can safely withstand enemy fire, even if the battle is all around them, they trust their protection enough to truly rest.
The Psalmist addresses fear of the unknown that many people wrestle with, like the possibility of an unknown sickness (pestilence that walketh in darkness) or what may happen tomorrow (destruction that wasteth at noonday). These are things that keep many gripped with fear and anxiety, but the Psalmist reminds us who OUR God is… He is ALMIGHTY.
A thousand shall fall at thy side, that is, God will not only fight your battle, He will pave the way, He will divide the obstacle ahead of you to clear your way, like He did with Old Testament armies, like He did with unmovable walls, and like He did for entire seas for Israel to pass through, He is ready and capable to do the same for you.
Franklin D. Roosevelt at his 1933 inauguration said: …“let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is … fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” And it seems for many of us this is true. Fear paralyzes us, it prevents us from moving forward. Fear… often of something unknown, incapable of being known, a mere remote possibility and bring us misery, unrest, and to a standstill. But God says, in so many ways… fear not!
His truth (vs. 4) will be our protector, freeing us from the lies of the enemy, protecting us from any and all attacks, giving us rest in the battle, and clearing the path ahead of us… if we can just believe that He can and rest in Him.
Dr. Ronald J. Barnes Jr.
March 6, 2023