I was preaching a series of sermons in a small town, and on one of the days an elderly gentleman came up to me during lunch. He said, “I know what it is to be frightened.”
The interesting thing was that I had not mentioned that subject at all in my messages. The man stated that he had been a fighter pilot in World War ll and the airfield he had flown from was the closest one to Germany. He said the Germans bombed their airfield 14 straight days and that seven of our pilots became so fearful that they couldn’t even fly their planes. Then the gentleman reiterated that he knew what it meant to be frightened.
And this is just one illustration of a factual reality! Does anybody doubt that we are living in an age of fear — that we live with fear?
So often we let our fears run away with us. For instance, there is the fear of possible war between the United States and Iran, terrorist activities, economic setbacks, the loss of jobs, illness, crime, abandonment, the loss of family or friends, the future, death — the list is endless.
At this point, the psalmist declares,”...yet I will be confident” (Psalm 27:3). That’s what we need — confidence as we face the dangerous challenging issues of our day. Hear the psalmist’s exact words, “Though a host encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.”
For the rest of this article, I would like to share a few thoughts about confidence.
First, the source of our confidence is God! What the psalmist needed in his fears, only God could give him. He needed light in his darkness; however, God doesn’t give the light of his guidance apart from himself. In terms of light, God shows us what to do and then gives us the wisdom and the will to attempt it.
So when we come to God with our fears, God will initially say, “Seek ye my face” (Psalm 27:8). In Hebrew, a single word means both “face” and “presence.” “Seek ye my face.” “Seek ye my presence.” God promised Moses, “...my presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14).
The late Quaker theologian and author, Elton Trueblood, put it this way: “The living God is above all systems of education, economies and cultures. This is God’s world, and God will not let it go, even in spite of our stupidity and our failure. The ground of hope is not in our productions but in God!”
Second, the avenue of our confidence is love! Do something for someone else.
Not only are we told in scripture that love casts out fear, but we see it in parents when a child is in danger. A father will rush into a burning building without any fear for his own safety to rescue his endangered child. And the same is true for a mother!
The simple truth is, love and fear cannot live together in the same heart. Either the fear casts out love or the love drives our fear. Fear and love simply cannot co-exist.
Edward Everett Hale, American historian, said something worth repeating:
“To look up and not down,
to look forward and not back,
to look out and not in,
and to lend a hand.”
I especially emphasize that last phrase “and to lend a hand.”
Third, the shield of our confidence is the long view! When Jesus said to his followers, “Be not anxious for tomorrow,” he was not telling us to close our eyes to what is before us. He was bidding us to look beyond the tomorrows. We are to face the future all right, but we are to face it in the long perspective (the long view).
I like the way the late Thomas Merton put it. He wrote, “The real hope is not in something we think we can do, but in God, who is making something good out of it in some way we cannot see.”
The long view enables us to see God’s guiding hand not only in the gentle and pleasant moments but also in the scary shadows of disappointment, darkness and fear.
As the psalmist stated it, “...Yet I will be confident.”