1 To you, O LORD, I call;
my rock, be not deaf to me,
lest, if you be silent to me,
I become like those who go down to the pit.
2 Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy,
when I cry to you for help,
when I lift up my hands
toward your most holy sanctuary.-Ps 28:1–2
Well we all know that as Christians it’s a big no no to be anxious about things. At least, that’s what people will tell us in a terrible misguided effort to encourage us while we are in the middle of great anxiety. They will say, “You shouldn’t feel anxious, the Bible says to be anxious in nothing.” Well that would be helpful advice if we could ever just switch our feelings off and forget about them. The problem is that that’s not really how anxiety works. Our fears and our worries don’t just go away when someone throws a bible verse at us, and it is more likely that we will just feel worse because not only do we feel anxious but now we also feel like we are doing something wrong. We tend to find it difficult to reconcile how we feel with how we think we should feel as Christians.
To understand how we can do this, it is fitting that we go to the Psalms. The Psalms are the rawest outpouring of emotion and spiritual truth that we have in the Scriptures. This is likely why so many have been comforted by the Psalms for so many centuries. It is here that theology meets with the joys and pains of life. If we open up Psalm chapter 28, we find one of many examples of the raw emotions of fear and anxiety in the Psalms. David likens himself to a person who is utterly alone, who is in the very depths of darkness, and pleading for his life. It is easy to see here that David is distraught, terrified, feeling alone, and under a great deal of stress. He doesn’t despise these feelings, or dismiss them as wrong. They are simply statements of fact. This is what he feels. When we as Christians face difficult emotions, we often feel as though we should suppress them or act as if they aren’t there. We feel as if we do this because it is what we should do in order to be good Christians. David doesn’t do this. He feels everything. Being anxious in faith doesn’t mean putting on a face and smiling as if everything is okay. In order to be anxious in faith, we must be honest like David was about what he is feeling. Being anxious in faith doesn’t have to do with how you start with those emotions or fear. Being anxious in faith very much has to do with where those fears end.
After David tells God how he feels, he ends by resting in a very potent truth in verse 6.
6 Blessed be the LORD!
For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
7 The LORD is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.
8 The LORD is the strength of his people;
he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
9 Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
Be their shepherd and carry them forever. -Ps 28:6–9
According to David, being anxious in faith is not suppressing our anxiety and bottling it up so that we can ignore it and move on. According to David, anxiety is an opportunity to remind ourselves that God is in control even when the world is out of our control. David’s comfort and refuge has nothing to do with his feelings, but his feelings that life is out of control drive him to remember an important truth. He IS out of control, but that’s okay because even if he is out of control, God is still in control. Anxiety and fear are not bad or evil feelings, they are just feelings. What makes feelings difficult to handle, is that if they are even the slightest bit misguided they can lead us to despair or to hope before we even know where we are. Casting all our anxieties on God doesn’t mean that we drop them like a hot potato as soon as they show up in our lives, it means that we remember that no matter how great our anxieties or fears, our God is greater. That’s a truth that we could all be reminded of more often.