How Faith Helps My Fear (4 Lessons from Psalm 23)

Covid19. It has turned our lives upside down. One moment I’m enjoying my senior year at Lancaster Bible College, and the next I’m going home because I am no longer able to work or learn alongside of friends. There were so many people I was hoping to spend the rest of my senior year with. And I treasure the fun that I had. But with the universities closing and classes being moved online, things will have to change.

This isn’t your usual blog post from me. This isn’t about a movie I watched or a book I am writing. It’s about fear. Its about living in world that’s constantly changing, the threat of sickness and death, and how we respond to it. Many of you might not be afraid of this Corona Virus, younger people have only mild symptoms, you may think it isn’t your issue. But it has become all of our issue. The rhythms of life in America have been halted, the new normal reigns supreme, and in this time of uncertainty, we are very prone to fear.

To be real with you. I am afraid. You might think that’s absurd. Kenny, why are you afraid? You still young, this virus is only serious for older people or those with immune deficiencies. Well, what some of you may not know is that I have an Immune deficiency called ‘Brutons’ which means that without the proper medicine I have a very low B Cell count. In short, I don’t have a great immune system and can easily get sick. So for me, this virus may be a real danger. But the other night I was reminded of a short Bible passage I learned as a kid, and after repeating it to myself over and over again, as well as a short midnight study, I wanted to share it with you all.

Maybe you are one of those who is more vulnerable to this virus, or maybe you are afraid of passing it on, or perhaps there is something else that is scaring you. I hope that these verses will be able to be of help you. I also want to share with you four things God has taught me from these verses.

Psalm 23 (ESV)

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

Here are a few things I learned. I hope they help you face your fears as well.

1. We face real danger and even death.

Yes, throughout life we will face real dangers, real threats, and even death. The writer of this Psalm was David, he was the 2nd King of Israel. For a good chunk of his life he was on the run and could be considered a wanted man. Psalm 23:4a says “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” David is in a dark place, its a fearful place, there is real danger, perhaps even death. Its a deep valley where death is always looming.

I think sometimes living in a culture built around Netflix, sports, and a variety of other leisure, we often forget how fragile our lives are until something major shakes them up. But in reality, life is hard. We live in a broken world and there are real threats out there. We should take these threats seriously.

As much as I dislike it, I think social distancing is a good idea. Stay six feet away from each other, wash your hands, and don’t go to the movies (I know, that last one is hard). Covid19 is a real threat, and has done a lot of damage. It has hurt people’s jobs, it has hurt families, it has hurt the economy, it has hurt college students, and worst off, it has hurt us by taking away countless of lives. Do not dismiss this. Take precautions, buy what you need but leave enough for others. Keep your distance. But also take time to mourn.

2. Despite this, Christians have no reason to fear or panic, because God is present with us.

But, immediately after talking about the valley of death, David says “I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me.” The Bible isn’t saying that no harm will ever come to a Christian, we have seen many Christians experience pain and die. In fact, all Christians do. All people do! Nevertheless, David is saying that he has no reason to fear.

But David! Haven’t you listened to the news recently? This world is a mess, what God has created good has been corrupted, this is not how its supposed to be! That is correct. But as a Christian I know that I am not in it alone. David says next “For you are with me.” Whatever you are going through, be it Covid19, or something else, if you are a follower of Jesus, you are not alone. God is with you. Evil may come, your plans may be soiled, you may experience pain, but you don’t need to fear it. Because God is with you. And like a Shepherd cares for his sheep, “His rod and staff” they can comfort you. As a side note, this is not health and wealth, God does not guarantee temporal protection and healing. But he does promise to care for you, regardless of you external conditions.

David then goes onto explaining how God, symbolically, prepares a feast for him and anoints his head. This is a picture of God honoring David, and exalting him over his enemies. Whatever my lot may be on earth, I know that at least in heaven I will be given more honor than I ever could deserve, and every person, thing, or virus will look small in comparison. But while I am here, I will remember that God is with me.

3. Cling to this truth: God is our Provider and Protector.

I want to get these two truths into your head. God is your provider and your protector. I see this in the first three verses (Psalm 23:1-3). David starts his song by saying that The Lord is his Shepherd, and that he has no wants. This is the man who hid in caves for years when Saul, the wicked King of Israel chased him. David had to leave his best friend Jonathan behind because his friend’s father hated his guts and was trying to kill him! David’s situation was not ideal, but here he says “I shall not want.” He knows that God, even in less than ideal circumstances, is still his provider and protector. God takes care of his sheep.

Maybe you don’t feel that way, maybe you feel weak. I understand that. But God, for his glory can “restore your soul.” He can give you strength to go on, he can refresh you, and “guide you in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” God leads us, helps us to walk in love, and he protects and provides for us, because of who he is… not who we are. God doesn’t protect and provide for us because we are Good. No, we have failed in so many ways, we have been selfish. Rather, God cares for us because he is good, and he wants everyone to see that so they might also find refreshment in him. You can not do enough good for God to love you, but if you genuinely ask him for forgiveness, he will gladly show his love to you.

4. There Is hope for the future here, but also for eternity.

Although everything may be changing, there is still one constant in my life, and its this, God’s goodness and love.

Psalm 23:6 says “Surely goodness and mercy [in some translations it says love] will follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

So even though things may be changing, God’s goodness and love will continue to follow you, especially if you are a Christian. His goodness and love will follow you like a dog who is devoted to his master, like a puppy desiring play. It will follow you everywhere. And when it says “all the days of my life” that means God’s goodness can be your constant even in times like this. I’m going to be honest with you, it is very hard for me to see God’s goodness right now, and it is probably hard for you. But I trust him. And at the least, I know where I am going should the worst come. “I will dwell in the hose of the Lord forever,” that means I will live in God’s presence for all of time and onwards. When I die, I have the hope that I will be with God for all eternity, and eventually be living on a perfect earth free from Covid19. But until that day comes, I can still be sure that God’s love and goodness will be a constant.

Therefore, I have no need to fear Covid19, being stuck in my house forever (which is a silly fear I think), all of my plans crumbling or anything else for the matter. I do not need to fear because God will always be with me. But this is a promise only for believers. There is no real hope without Christ, only facades and straw houses that will fail.

So this world is a mess, but I have hope for a future here, and for eternity. I want you to have that hope too. I want you to be free from panic and to breath in the goodness of God. And I believe that hope ultimately lies in a man named Jesus Christ, who was more than a man, but God himself. He faced death for us, and died and rose again so that we can be forgiven and have an eternal hope. If you do not know who he is, please reach out to me on the contact page, I would love to have a conversation with you over the next couple of days. I also have a poetry book that I hope to publish soon which better explains who Jesus is and what he did to give me this hope. It’s called “Poems for the Redeemed Heart” and I hope it will encourage many of you.

So if you are prone to fear like me, I first encourage you to be sure you know Jesus. And next, I encourage you to find a verse or chapter to meditate on, like Psalm 23. One that reminds you that God is with you and that you do not need to be afraid. In the coming weeks, lets all be careful and keep each other from sicknesses, but lets also trust God, in both sickness and health, because he is with us, therefore we have do not need to fear.

I love you, but God loves you more.

Kenny Bechtel