What I’m Thinking: Whom Shall I Fear?

As we wrestle in Hawai’i with the shocking news of murder and arson near Diamond Head, we hear the Psalmist ask: “Whom shall I fear?”

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about how a Sunday in Honolulu, just below the majesty of Diamond Head, became the setting for violence, for fire, for death. My prayers are with the injured and with the grieving friends and family, with those who lost homes, and with those whose hopes and peace have been shattered by this eruption of violence. I have no great wisdom, especially when we don’t really know all of what happened, except to say that we are called to better things.

The psalm for this coming week, Psalm 27 (Psalm 27:1, 4-9), speaks directly to this. You probably recognize the opening words: “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?”

The sad truth is that people fear a great deal in these days. Sometimes they do not fear what they ought. Sometimes they fear what is of no danger, but there is a lot of fear running around, and some of it, as we saw on Sunday, is fear that is justified.

Somebody asked me just the other day what my worst fear – memory of fear – was, and the things that came to mind were times when somebody else was in serious risk of harm or of illness, and this was a risk that I could not manage. This was a danger I could not control. Those were the times that really made my breath catch and my brain freeze.

The Psalmist wrote from an experience both of deep danger – deep fear – and an experience of resilience, of survival, of emerging into an assurance that it was not just the Psalmist’s own resources that had brought them through, but also the blessings, presence, and love of God.

I wish I had some wisdom that would bring that presence and power into everyone’s life automatically and we would, in fact, be able to say with assurance, “The LORD is my light and salvation; whom shall I fear?”

But the body will react as it does. The heart will race. The skin will get clammy. The breath will come short no matter what we believe when we get to that place where the danger signals are ringing their clarion call.

What I hope is that our assurance in God can help us to resist the worst impulses of our fears. Our fears are truly bad guides. Our fears lead us into horrors, into oppression, into unjust death and destruction for the innocent. Our fears also give us that which we need to confront and to survive the real dangers of our lives.

Perhaps in the assurance of God’s presence, perhaps in letting God’s presence work in us, we can let the resources of our fears help us to endure and we can prevent the misdirection and poor guidance of our fears from leading us into places where we should not go.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: , , | Posted on January 19, 2020

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