Several years ago, we added a new element to our bedtime routine with our kids. Our kids would ask us to “pray for the storm.” Every. Night. It all started with a particularly bad thunderstorm. For the first few nights, we tried to reason with them. “Girls, there is no storm tonight, so there is nothing to fear.” No amount of reasoning, however, convinced them not to be afraid.
The first few nights after the actual storm, they wanted me to keep coming into their room. Things just seemed safer with Daddy nearby. But Daddy is actually just as powerless in the storm as they are. Ultimately, I want my daughters to recognize the God who is present in the storm, and who is ultimately over and above the storm. And so, together, we turn to God in prayer and bring our fears to him.
This is a great thing to do with small children. But surely, we adults need much more sophisticated tools at our disposal for the kind of “adult” fears we experience, right? It is tempting to think of other ways I can be rescued. But the same thing my kids need at bedtime is the same thing I need as I encounter my own fears and anxieties. Author and speaker Dr. David Powlison often said, “Given the world we live in, we have every reason to fear. But given the God we serve, we have every reason to trust.”
We live in a world fraught with evils. Pandemics. Wars. Stock market crashes. Baby formula shortages. Inflation. Uncertainty. Sickness and death. Sometimes our fears can feel almost paralyzing. Have you ever been there? You have constant thoughts of all the bad things that could happen. And your mind keeps jumping from one fear to the next to the next, etc. And just like my kids, no amount of rationalizing ultimately makes our fears go away. We live in a world with plenty of things to fear.
But our fears are not the end of the story. The Psalms are one of the places I turn to in the midst of my fears. The Psalms are beautiful because they accurately portray the world in which we live. There are no rose-colored glasses in the psalms. But in the midst of our troubles, the Psalms also reorient us from looking at our fears to looking at our faithful Redeemer who rescues us in the midst of all our troubles.
Take, for example, Psalm 46. This psalm was read to our family as we packed up and moved for a new job several years ago. This psalm is all about trouble. The earth can give way, the mountains can fall into the sea, waters roar, nations rage, kingdoms totter, wars break out. In many ways, Psalm 46 describes the current state of world affairs. But in the midst of all the trouble, there is one constant—God, himself, shows up and comes to our rescue. He is our ever-present help in trouble (v. 1). When God is in our midst, we are not moved (v. 5). He is our fortress (v. 7). He speaks, and wars cease (v. 9). In the midst of all the danger, toils, and snares, we can be still and know that he is God (v. 10) because the Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress (v. 11).
In the midst of this troubled world, our fears can range from the rational to the irrational and we can get paralyzed by our fears. And there are many practical helps for our fears. But our ultimate help comes from our God—he is a very present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1). He is our keeper (Psalm 121). When trouble comes, he does not simply give us tools to navigate our fears so that we can think calmer and more rational thoughts. He goes further than we can ever imagine. He gives us himself. As the Heidelberg Catechism reminds us, our only comfort in life and in death is that we belong to our faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.