A common question asked of us is about our safety here in Africa.
Those questions usually go something along this line: “Aren’t you worried about all the things going on there? Aren’t you afraid for your life? Shouldn’t you go home to America where it is safer?”
To answer those questions, “Yes, we are concerned about it!” We would have to be foolish to not be concerned. So, we keep ourselves informed of the situations going on and look ahead to possible problems in the future and how we can best prepare for them.
As for being afraid and running home to America, we would say that God has called us here and He is very well able to take care of us.
The Bible tells us that “safety is of the Lord.” So we can trust Him to take care of us, whether here or in America. But I must admit that sometimes when I hear about situations and problems that are arising, fear begins to take over in my life.
So, what does a Christian do when they are in the midst of troubles? How should we handle the fear that rises in our heart and threatens to strangle us?
We look around us and see violence, riots, murders, beheadings, etc. Hatred and sin abounds on every hand. So should we run and hide? Do we just give up on God because it looks like He is not working?
How do we deal with the fear in our hearts when we see the wickedness all around us?
I was recently reading in Psalms chapter four in my devotions, and God showed me some Biblical answers to these questions. This chapter was written by David when he was in the midst of trouble. We are not told exactly what the trouble was that he was facing. But he gives us some Biblical answers to the questions of troubles and fears.
First, there is a cry to God for help (verse one).
David recognized that God was the only ONE who could help him in whatever situation he was in. So he cried out to God in his distress. He also reminds himself of what God has done in the past – “thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress” – and asks God to work again – “have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.”
This should be a no-brainer for any Christian who is facing trouble of any kind. The first place we should turn is to God, reminding ourselves of how He has helped us in the past and pleading for His help again. But so often, instead of crying to God for help, we cry to our friends, or we google it to try to figure the situation out on our own, using our own wisdom or resources. But the FIRST thing we should do is cry out to God. It reminds us of our inability to fix the situation on our own and helps us to get our perspective right.
Second, there is a rebuke to those around him who were trying to discourage him.
He mentions these people in verse 2 and verse 6. Be assured that anytime you are facing troubles in your life, there will be many, even other Christians, who will try to discourage you and tell you to give up—”it is not worth it.” “God doesn’t care about you.” “Why do you waste your time serving Him?”
So how does David respond? What is his solution to this problem? What does he do when he is in distress?
In verse 3, David reminds himself that he belongs to God, and God has promised to hear and answer the prayers of His children.
In verse 6, he reminds himself that goodness comes only from God.
Third, in verses 4 and 5 we see David’s recommendation and his counsel to himself.
These are the verses that God really spoke to my heart about…
“Stand in awe, and sin not: Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah”
To stand in awe is to look at God—at His greatness, His power, His love, His character, His holiness, etc.
First, we need to get our eyes off of our problems and our situations and instead look on the Lord. Second, we need to remind ourselves of Who He is and what He has done already in our lives, and how He has helped us in the past. When we do that, we are reminded that we can trust Him in our present situation. Reminding ourselves of the character of our God and remembering His promises gives us strength to continue on. It also keeps us from sinning—from looking at things our way and making wrong decisions and wrong choices.
Communing with your own heart is to talk to yourself—to remind yourself of your standing in Christ, to remember all He has done in your life, to rehearse His great character and power.
Instead of worrying and fretting, we need to be still and know that He is God.
Instead of running around to others looking for solutions, we need to look to God and to His Word for the answer to our problems. This alone will bring a calm assurance to our heart that God is in control and He can handle everything—therefore we can be still.
“Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.”
The sacrifice of righteousness is giving thanks and praise to God. After you have reminded yourself of all that God has done in your life already, it should cause you to give thanks and praise to God, and allow you to consciously place your trust in Him.
Lastly, we see the results of trusting God in verses 7 and 8—goodness, gladness, peace, sleep, and safety.
These things only come from God. We can only enjoy these benefits in our life when we are looking at God and trusting in Him instead of looking at the problems and circumstances around us.
This is not something that I can do one time, and all my fear will go away forever! I wish it was that simple. But when I feel fear rising in my heart, it should be a reminder to me that something is wrong with my focus. I need to get my eyes back to the Lord, on His character, on His plan for my life, and remind myself that I can trust Him.
Beverly is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She and Doug Hammett have been married for over 35 years. Since her father was a pastor and her husband was already a pastor when she married him, she is well acquainted with the blessings as well as the problems of the ministry! Bev’s favorite things to do are read and spend time with her family.
In Autumn of 2010, Doug stepped aside from his position as senior pastor at LVBC to reach and train men in Botswana and South Africa. Beverly continues to write for our ladies publication, giving her unique perspective of life in the ministry, and now life on the mission field. You can read more about their ministry here.