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Rest Wreckers: Fear


In an article titled “Surviving Anxiety” published in The Atlantic, author Scott Stossel describes his lifelong battle with fear. Stossel was so anxious at his wedding that he sweat through his clothes and had to lean on his bride in order to stay upright. When his first child was born, he passed out from fear. “I’ve abandoned dates; walked out of exams; and had breakdowns during job interviews, plane flights, train trips, and car rides, and simply walking down the street,” Stossel writes. “On ordinary days, doing ordinary things—reading a book, lying in bed, talking on the phone, sitting in a meeting, playing tennis—I have thousands of times been stricken by a pervasive sense of existential dread and been beset by nausea, vertigo, shaking, and a panoply of other physical symptoms.”

Few things are as destructive to rest as fear. Today’s psalm describes how David overcame his battle with fear: by relying on God’s power and protection. David describes a variety of circumstances that would normally be grounds for fear (vv. 1–3). Anxiety often causes us to magnify our problems. Instead of focusing on all the possible terrible things that could happen, David chose to meditate on the blessing of God’s presence. He was able to escape the anxiety of the present by focusing on how God had helped him in the past and on what God had promised for the future.

David knew he was in the safest possible place. Even in the midst of trouble, his life was hidden in God. He expected the Lord to look out for his interests. He also knew that the Lord would accomplish His good purpose.

This does not mean that he expected his troubles to vanish. This psalm concludes with a resolve to wait for the Lord.

Apply the Word

Waiting for God is hard, especially when problems seem to be growing. One of the challenges when dealing with anxiety is that God often seems to be silent during these times. Follow David’s example in this psalm. Remember what God has already done for you. Remind yourself of what God has promised. Be resolute in your confidence in Him.

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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