“God (Elohim) is our Refuge and Strength, a very present Help in every trouble . . . Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea !
For there is a River, the Streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles (congregation) of the Most High. For God (Elohim) is in the midst of her; and she shall not be moved . . . !”
“You should have a clear apprehension of the gospel (Glad Tidings). The religious life is not one of gloom and of sadness but of Peace (Shalom) and joy coupled with Christ-like dignity and holy solemnity. We are not encouraged by our Saviour to cherish doubts and fears and distressing forebodings; these bring no relief to the soul and should be rebuked rather than praised. We may have joy unspeakable and full of glory !
Faith Grows in Conflict With Doubt and Fear.
— The Lord frequently places us in difficult positions to stimulate us to greater exertion. In His providence special annoyances sometimes occur to test our patience and faith. God gives us lessons of trust. He would teach us where to look for Help and Strength in time of need. Thus we obtain practical knowledge of His divine will, which we so much need in our life experience. Faith grows strong in earnest conflict with doubt and fear !
Fear Reveals Unbelief.
As Jesus rested by faith in the Father’s care, so we are to Rest (Sabbath) in the care of our Saviour (ref: Matthew 11:28 & Hebrews 4:1-10). If the disciples had trusted in Him, they would have been kept in Peace. Their fear in the time of danger revealed their unbelief. In their efforts to save themselves, they forgot Jesus; and it was only when, in despair of self-dependence, they turned to Him that He could give them help.
How often the disciples’ experience is ours! When the tempests of temptation gather, and the fierce lightnings flash, and the waves sweep over us, we battle with the storm alone, forgetting that there is One Who can help us. We trust to our own strength till our hope is lost, and we are ready to perish. Then we remember Jesus, and if we call upon Him to save us (deliver, set free, rescue, heal and make us whole), we shall not cry in vain.
Though He sorrowfully reproves our unbelief and self-confidence, He never fails to give us the help we need. Whether on the land or on the sea, if we have the Saviour in our hearts, there is no need of fear. Living faith in the Redeemer will smooth the sea of life and will deliver us from danger in the way that He knows to be best.
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith . . . !” Ephesians 3:17
Fear Grieves the Holy Spirit –
Faith takes God at His Word, not asking to understand the meaning of the trying experiences that come. But there are many who have little faith. They are always fearing and borrowing trouble. Every day they are surrounded by the tokens of God’s love, every day they enjoy the bounties of His providence; but they overlook these blessings.
“It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not ! . . . They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness . . . !” Lamentations 3:22-23
And the difficulties they encounter, instead of driving them to God, separate them from Him, by arousing unrest and repining. . . . Jesus is their Friend. All heaven is interested in their welfare, and their fear and repining grieve the Holy Spirit.
Not because we see or feel that God hears us are we to believe. We are to trust His Promises. When we come to Him in faith, we should believe that every petition enters into the heart of Christ. When we have asked for His Blessing, we should believe that we receive it, and thank Him that we have it. Then we are to go about our duties, assured that the Blessing will be sent when we need it most. When we have learned to do this, we shall know that our prayers are answered. God will do for us “exceeding abundantly,” “according to the riches of His glory” and “the working of His mighty power.”
What to do in times of doubt ?
Only the sense of God’s Presence can banish the fear that, for the timid child, would make life a burden. Let him fix in his memory the Promise, “The Angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them !” Psalm 34:7.
Let him read that wonderful story of Elisha in the mountain city, and, between him and the hosts of armed foemen, a mighty encircling band of heavenly angels (II Kings 6:15-17). Let him read how to Peter, in prison and condemned to death, God’s angel appeared; how, past the armed guards, the massive doors and great iron gateway with their bolts and bars, the angel led God’s servant forth in safety (Acts 12:7-10).
Let him read of that scene on the sea, when to the tempest-tossed soldiers and seamen, worn with labor and watching and long fasting, Paul the prisoner, on his way to trial and execution, spoke those grand words of courage and hope: “Be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you ! . . .
For there stood by me this night the angel of God, Whose I am, and Whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.” In the faith of this Promise Paul assured his companions, “There shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you.” So it came to pass. Because there was in that ship one man through whom God could work, the whole shipload of heathen soldiers and sailors was preserved. “They escaped all safe to land” Acts 27:22-44.
God Deals Plainly.
But our Lord does not deceive us. He does not say to us, “Do not fear; there are no dangers in your path.” He knows there are trials and dangers, and He deals with us plainly. He does not propose to take His people out of a world of sin and evil, but He points them to a never-failing Refuge. His prayer for His disciples was, “I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” “In the world,” He says, “ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 17:15; 16:33).
Look Away From Self –
Look away from yourself to Jesus. You may acknowledge that you are a sinner, while at the same time it is your privilege to recognize Christ as your Saviour. He came not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance. Difficulties and suggestions will be presented by Satan to the human mind, so that he may weaken faith and destroy courage. He has manifold temptations that can come trooping into the mind, one succeeding another; but to closely study your emotions and give way to your feelings is to entertain the evil guest of doubt, and by so doing you entangle yourself in perplexities of despair.
You may inquire, What shall I do under these terrible suggestions? Expel them from the mind by looking at and contemplating the matchless depths of a Saviour’s love. Do not exalt your feelings and tell of them and worship them whether good, bad, sad, or encouraging.
“For perfect love casteth out all fear . . . And God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind !” I John 4:18 & II Timothy 1:7
Jesus invites us to come to Him and He will lift the weights from our weary shoulders and place upon us His yoke, which is easy, and His burden, which is light. The path in which He invites us to walk would never have cost us a pang had we always walked in it. It is when we stray from the path of duty that the way becomes difficult and thorny. The sacrifices which we must make in following Christ are only so many steps to return to the path of Light, of peace and happiness. Doubts and fears grow by indulgence, and the more they are indulged, the harder they are to overcome. It is safe to let go every earthly support and take the hand of Him Who lifted up and saved the sinking disciple on the stormy sea.
Keep your wants, your joys, your sorrows, your cares, and your fears before God. You cannot burden Him; you cannot weary Him…. His heart of love is touched by our sorrows and even by our utterances of them. Take to Him everything that perplexes the mind. Nothing is too great for Him to bear, for He holds up worlds . . . !
He rules over all the affairs of the universe. Nothing that in any way concerns our peace is too small for Him to notice. There is no chapter in our experience too dark for Him to read; there is no perplexity too difficult for Him to unravel. No calamity can befall the least of His children, no anxiety harass the soul, no joy cheer, no sincere prayer escape the lips, of which our heavenly Father is unobservant, or in which He takes no immediate interest. . . . !
The relations between God and each soul are as distinct and full as though there were not another soul upon the earth to share His watchcare, not another soul for whom He gave His beloved Son.
Mind, Character & Personality Vol.2 p.476-480