The iconic baseball great, Yogi Berra, said, “The future ain’t what it used to be.” Yogi must have seen that future because today, all of us are wondering how the effects of COVID-19 will change our lives. Uncertainty in what we previously took for granted unsettles us and makes us fearful. But there is deliverance in knowing that there are two kinds of fear.
Two Kinds of Fear
Not all fears are equal. We all know the fear that strikes like a match and rages between our helplessness and an unknown future. Ironically, anxieties also have the power to make us see and understand our place in creation. Worries that give us understanding drive us deep into the bedrock of God. When confronted with troubles, that fear is a God-given response as sure as pulling a hand back from a hot stove.
My dad’s WWII journal tells the story of the evening before his first firefight. He is crouching in the attic of an abandoned house and looks down over the landscape he knows he will cross the next day. He is afraid, just as any sane man should be. He doesn’t know if he will live or die. Downcast, he wonders if he will see his family again. Opening his pocket bible to Psalm 27, he reads, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?”
Why Did David Write Psalm 27?
We know little about David’s situation as he composed the words of Psalm 27, but David’s words pull us forcefully into an encouragement to believe in God’s care. David remembers the Lord’s protection in times past. Speaking to his inner man, he persuasively recounts his experiences with God’s faithfulness.
Are the words of Psalm 27 the thoughts of a brave person? I don’t think so. People with courage don’t need to strengthen themselves with words. I believe David was anxious and uncertain. However, his fear had a positive result. There are indeed two kinds of fear, and David chose to wrap his worries in the fabric of God’s lovingkindness. Psalm 27 is a man laying the quakes of an anxious future on the rock of God’s faithfulness.
Turning Toward Righteous Fear
Last week, I spoke by phone with an old friend, and we acknowledged that these are unprecedented times. We talked about the fear that arises in the dark, haunted hours of an early sleepless morning. All of us have these moments. But the dawn comes, and we see that our distress with an unknown future is absolutely nothing in the light of God’s faithfulness. There are two kinds of fear, and like David, we can remind ourselves and one another of God’s faithfulness. With that, it’s a small pivot to use the worries of the future to press ourselves into the security of God’s lovingkindness. Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”