This is a guest post, written by my handsome husband, Kraig Elliott.
When we were growing up, our lives were affected by the Cold War. Even though it was mostly over before I was born, the ideologies of the Cold War certainly had an impact on our lives as children.
One part that really affected me was the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis where the Soviet Union was building missile silos on the island of Cuba, giving them the ability to strike most of the continental United States. President Kennedy confronted the Soviets, and the tension was palpable. You could have cut it with a knife.
To prepare for a potential missile strike, many things were done to make people as safe as possible. Families stored food in caves on the edges of their property or built bomb shelters to share with their nearby neighbors. Towns instituted public buildings as nuclear fallout shelters.
Back in Iowa, in the old main entrance to the public high school where I used to work, we could still see the yellow and black sign declaring the school building as a “Nuclear Fallout Shelter.” Now, I’ve been to every part of that school building, and I can tell you that there is nothing there that would protect you from a nuclear attack!
How many of you took part in a nuclear attack drill in your school? A few times we did (although tornadoes were much more of a constant threat!). We got under our desks and we put our hands over our heads. Now if a nuclear bomb ever hit, that wasn’t going to help much, was it?
It wouldn’t provide much security, would it? In fact, it might provide a false sense of security, making people think that they could actually survive a nuclear catastrophe by getting under a little, metal desk.
As they say, “Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear bombs.” No matter what, if a nuclear bomb hits, you’re done for!
There are many things in life that can bring fear to our minds. Human fear can be a debilitating emotion that
- makes us incapable of doing things.
- takes our focus off God.
- leads us to trust in human understanding (getting under desks).
- focuses our attention on the lies of the world.
1. What We’re Really Fighting Against
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).
Our threats and our fears are not nuclear bombs, governments or military forces. Not even natural disasters. Those aren’t the things we’re fighting against.
Fear comes from spiritual warfare. It comes from a battle against the rulers of the darkness of this world.
How does this work? So often, in our day-to-day lives, we focus on what-ifs that are completely out of our control.
What if a nuclear war happened? That’s a big thing to think about. You can certainly fear a lot of things about a nuclear war!
We used to live in a very remote section of northeastern Arizona — two hours from the closest Wal-mart, dirt roads everywhere. Part of my administrative duties at the high school there was to make a safety plan in case there was a terrorist attack. We thought it was crazy! Seriously, why would terrorists attack our tiny town in the middle of nowhere?
The reality is that we were saying “what if.” Human experience tries to say “what if” when we have a worldly mindset.
We do this for everything once fear gets into our minds.
- What if I’m in a car accident?
- What if my child is murdered?
- What if my spouse gets a debilitating disease?
- What if the entire world goes through a massive, economic depression?
- What if I’m imprisoned for something I say or believe?
Fear is the focus on what-ifs. It comes from listening to the spiritual powers of this world. Satan wants to make mankind quake through the power of his lies, to therefore take the focus of people from God.
We see this all around. In fact, I think it’s getting worse in our culture. It’s getting worse among those who say they love God. People are what-if-ing themselves into a debilitating fear that keeps them from getting out of bed in the morning. It cripples God’s family.
David wrote Psalm 5 in a time of insecurity. David could have easily started to say “what if.” Saul, his son Absalom, Goliath — his life was filled with numerous things to make him quake in his boots, to cripple him from being able to do anything.
He realized he couldn’t fear what man may do to him. Rather, he chose to focus on God.
Focusing on God breaks the chain that binds us to the fear of this world.
“But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy;
In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple” (Psalm 5:7, NKJV).
Fear of God gives us a direction. It doesn’t lead us to panic over what may happen. David didn’t panic about his problems, but instead, he comprehended the sovereignty of God’s hand in all things. He knew all the circumstances of his life were of God.
After all, why was David even a king? Because God sovereignly chose him through the anointing of Samuel.
Samuel said, “Jesse, line up all your sons.
The biggest and strongest ones at the end.
Nope, God isn’t choosing the oldest one.
Nope, not him either.
Is that the Last one? Surely these aren’t all your sons!”
Jesse replied, “No, I’ve got Runt over there, my youngest son David, out in the field.”
That’s the one God sovereignly chose. Because David saw how God had worked in his life in the past, he was confident that circustances were all from God.
“But even though [Jesus] was God’s Son, he learned through his sufferings to be obedient” (Hebrews 5:8, GNT).
Suffering teaches obedience. God allows circumstances in our lives to help us learn to fear and obey Him. We’re not to be focused on what-if, but instead we’re to fear God, to see His sovereign hand that controls everything “for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28, NIV).
God’s purposes are good, for our good, to cause us to be obedient and to fear and honor our sovereign God.
2. Who We Really Are
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37, NIV).
David was more than a conqueror. (How does someone become more than a conqueror? It’s like being more than famous. 🙂 )
We aren’t the ones who conquer. We’re conquerors because of the One who overcame for us.
“Give heed to the voice of my cry,
My King and my God,
For to You I will pray.
My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord;
In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will look up.
Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies;
Make Your way straight before my face” (Psalm 5:2-3, 8, NKJV).
We see where David’s focus was. First, he called “in the morning.” When he woke up and got all the sleep out of his eyes, his first thought was not, “What am I going to do today?” or “What will this day bring?” He prayed to God. His attention was first and foremost focused on God.
It says “in the morning” twice in verse 3, because in Hebrew this is a point of strong emphasis.
There were also specific times of prayer in Israel, morning, afternoon and evening. This was the morning prayer, looking to God for all of His direction in his life.
“God, what is your direction for me today?”
This allowed him to be more than a conqueror.
Second, he knew whose path to follow. He asked God for His wisdom. He wasn’t following after the world or the advice of those around him, but he sought after God’s Words and His ways.
He sought security in the only place security can be found — God.
“But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy;
In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple” (Psalm 5:7).
David came to God in fear, and in so doing, he experienced love and mercy in return — in abundance.
One mom we know is having to watch her tiny daughter go through repeated cancer treatments for leukemia. Recently, her daughter was terribly sick, which prevented her from getting her necessary treatments. The mom said, “This is the second time we’ve had to cancel recently. I was hoping it wouldn’t turn out this way, but I have to trust that it’s all in the Master’s hands.”
This is an understanding of Romans 8:37. We can say we hope that this is the way it works out, but in the meantime, we have to trust in God’s plan. As we do that, and as we focus on Him, we feel love and mercy in return.
3. What Is My attitude?
David knew he was more than a conqueror. It affected not only the way he lived but it also affected his day-to-day attitude.
When we face suffering, we must realize that God has already defeated the power of sin in this world. Whether it is cancer or nuclear disaster or someone not stopping at the stop sign at the end of the street, nothing is to be feared.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (Romans 8:35, NIV).
That pretty much covers it, doesn’t it? That’s everything I can imagine that I could be dealt with.
Nothing separated David from God’s love, if his focus was on God and Him alone.
“But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name
Be joyful in You.
For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous;
With favor You will surround him as with a shield” (Psalm 5:11-12, NKJV).
This is a pretty powerful attitude for David to have, especially since he was in a civil war and his own son was attacking him. This Psalm might have been written before the war took place. Maybe there was dissension among the guards. Maybe David was walking around his palace, hearing guards whisper about wanting to follow Absalom or wondering if David was the right man to be king.
In the midst of all that, we see David’s attitude. Rejoicing. Gladness. He didn’t have to fear anything. He had God.
Verse 12 mentions the “righteous.” Who are the righteous? Those who, like David, focus on God, love His name, and fear Him.
No what-ifs in David’s mind could cloud his judgment and take his focus off God. Instead he could sing and shout for joy.
David closes with a note of encouragement to all who hear his story. “Be glad, sing for joy, and rejoice” that God blesses and protects those who love Him.
This is true security. Relief from the what-ifs of this world only comes from focusing on God.
“For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous;
With favor You will surround him as with a shield” (Psalm 5:12, NKJV).
Don’t look to the world for protection. Just as hiding under a desk won’t protect you from a nuclear attack, the world’s protection will always fail. Whether presidents, judges, armies, guns, or anything else, the world’s protections are failures.
Our focus must be on God. Learn to fear Him and to come to Him to find love and mercy in your time of need. Your attitude will change from constant worry to rejoicing and praise for our loving God.
Kraig Elliott is Anne’s husband, the father of seven children, and the pastor of a small Baptist church in southeastern Minnesota. (He’s the best pastor Anne ever had!) He loves discussing theology, talking football, and redesigning the living room and anything else that stands still too long. (Oh, and he’s the master coffee barista around our house.) You are welcome to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.