I once lived in Camden, a small town in Arkansas. One day, while walking home from baseball practice, I took a shortcut through a neighbor’s back yard. There was a chicken coop nearby but I didn’t think anything of it. “Chickens don’t hurt people, right? They just run around the yard clucking or sit in the hen house laying eggs.” I knew these things because at the ripe old age of eight, boys are cocky and fearless — and dumb.
Everything was fine at first. As I approached, the chickens scattered in every direction. All except for one colorful rooster. He stood his ground as if daring me to enter his territory. Our paths crossed, I stopped, and we both stared at each other.
Suddenly, the rooster flew at my face. There was no time to think about the proper way to fend off a chicken attack so I placed my baseball bat between the angry bird and me. The rooster hit the bat, dropped back to the ground and angrily stared at me again. Now I was afraid. What would this crazy bird do next?
The answer came soon enough. Once again, the crazed bird flew at my face and again I shoved him back with my baseball bat. The staring contest resumed between us for at least another three hours. (Well, it seemed like three hours.) For a third time, the rooster flew at my face and again, I pushed him away. He then stared at me a moment, seemed to shrug and just walked away.
I cautiously and slowly moved away and then broke into a mad dash home crying and sobbing. That day, I vowed to God and my mother that I would forever avoid walking through backyard chicken coups.
We all face scary situations occasionally. Some fears are rational. Some as with my chickens are laughable. But we must learn to cope with fear — whether it’s losing a job, a trusted friend, facing sickness or even coping with death.
Recent events have certainly given us more reasons to be afraid: a terrorist bombing in Boston, a factory explosion in Texas, an earthquake in China. All three remind us, there is a lot to fear. The question is not whether we are afraid? The question is “how will we cope with our fears?”
In Psalm 27, David, the Biblical poet king, found himself surrounded by the enemy. Yet, he was still able to write: “The LORD is my light and my salvation- so why should I be afraid? The LORD protects me from danger- so why should I tremble? When evil people come to destroy me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will know no fear.” (Psalm 27:1-3)
What was David’s secret for facing fear?
- Declare your reliance on God: “The one thing I ask of the LORD- the thing I seek most- is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life.” (Psalm 27:4) David put his faith and trust in God.
- Ask for help, boldly: “Listen to my pleading, O LORD. Be merciful and answer me. Do not hide yourself from me. Do not reject your servant. Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me.” (27:7-9) You can almost hear David’s anguish as he cries out for God.
- Trust the Source and timing of the answer: “Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.” (27:14) The Hebrew word we define as ‘wait’ describes the twisting of strands for strength as a rope. Chuck Swindoll writes: “Wait, twist yourself around the strands of God’s strength — wait.”
Need an example? Lisa Beamer lost her husband, Todd, in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Following the tragedy, Lisa wrote in her book: Let’s Roll: Finding Hope in the Midst of Crisis: “In that dark moment, my soul cried out to God and He began to give me a sense of peace and a confidence that the children and I were going to be okay. But even that comfort didn’t take away the wrenching pain or the awful sense of loss I felt.”
Lisa faced the fear of losing her husband and God began to give her a sense of peace and confidence that she and the children would be okay.
Lisa’s husband, Todd also turned to God in the midst of his fiery trial. With a telephone operator, he prayed the Lord’s Prayer and recited the Twenty-third psalm. He finally whispered, “Help me Jesus,” several times before calling his fellow passengers to action with the words we now honor: “Let’s roll!”
Whatever your fears: chickens or terrorists, bombs or earthquakes, imagined or real – learn from David in Psalm 27:
Declare your reliance on God.
Ask for help, boldly.
Trust the Source and timing of the answer.
Then move forward confidently in the midst of your fear: “Let’s roll!”