Best of Daily Reflections: Why Are We So Afraid?

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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God alone is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Psalms 46:1

In a previous church, I once sarcastically began a sermon by saying I thought it would be a good idea for the church to have a small arsenal. Maybe we should train the choir members to be snipers and have a couple of deacons trained in the martial arts? Because you never know when an attack is going to come, and we need to be ready to defend ourselves. I was being completely tongue-in-cheek, and everyone knew it. Not long after that sermon, a man walked into our local city council meeting, killing six people and wounding two others. My sarcasm didn’t seem quite so funny anymore.

Many readers of The High Calling live in the United States, a country that puts a premium on security. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the United States spent $711 billion on defense in 2011 alone. The next closest spender was China which spent $143 billion. US total spending on defense was greater than China, Russia, UK, France, Japan, Saudi Arabia, India, Germany, Brazil, Italy, South Korea, Australia, Canada, and Turkey combined. Despite that, we remain a deeply fearful people.

We are fearful of getting sick, getting hurt, losing money, or losing it all. When we walk into a supermarket, we wipe down the cart with an antiseptic wipe. Everything we own—including our bodies—must be insured. Security, in all its forms, has become one of our biggest preoccupations, but it is a fool’s game. If we take the Bible seriously, it doesn’t matter what kind of defenses we have. If the Lord does not protect the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

Psalm 46 gives a different picture of how we should think of our security: “God alone is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” As the Psalmist continues, it doesn’t matter if the earth falls apart (46:2–3) or if the nations rage (46:6–9), God is with us. He is the one who causes war to cease. He is our warrior. He is the One who has promised us life, to redeem us and resurrect us from the dead. God is our fortress.

But God’s promise to defend us does not mean that he will not let us die or go through pain and suffering and even death. Even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, a valley that our great Shepherd leads us through, we will fear no evil because our Lord is with us.

The Psalmist calls us back to trust: “Be still and know that I am God.” This is a call to place our confidence not in our circumstances or the strength of our defenses but on the Lord alone who is our fortress. But let’s be honest, this is hard for Americans. We don’t like putting trust in anything that we can’t see or hold. No one is saying we can’t defend ourselves or that we should be irresponsible, but we should come to grips with what the Bible teaches. God is the only fortress worthy of our trust.


God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalm 46:1–3, 8–11

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What do you fear most in this world? Chances are good, whatever your fear, you have built an idol to protect yourself against it. What might that idol be? How hard is it to trust God with your finances, security, health, or even your future?

PRAYERS: O Triune God of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you are my fortress, my rock, my shield, and my deliverer. Help me to place my trust in you, to believe and trust that you are the one who has promised me life and that you will give to me salvation. Amen.

P. S. from Marcus Goodyear, acting Editor-in-Chief: Dave Peterson is on vacation this week, and we are delighted to bring you reflections from Dr, Rob Fossett. Dr. Fossett has adapted these reflections from his upcoming series of Sermon Notes from The High Calling. Later this summer, The High Calling will share Dr. Fossett’s sermons with thousands of subscribing pastors who want to teach their congregation a theological view of work. We know you will enjoy Rob’s wisdom as he invites us to reflect with him each morning.