When surrounded by enemies, and feeling fear’s strangle hold bearing down, we often do not take time to think logically. More often than not we follow our instincts – which are rarely the best solution. Pat McManus, the outdoor humorist writer, tells of how he would react when lost. The picture was of a spring tightening as he began to realize that he did not know where he was. Slowly he would wind himself up and then, with just the right noise, normally the snap of a twig caused by a hungry Sasquatch in the bushes, he would explode. His trajectory would only be redirected by trees, boulders, small cities, and gravity, until he exited the forest and could regain control. That is one way to deal with fear.
David offers a different solution for fear in Psalm 56. Here he demonstrates that you can choose trust in the midst of fear. Fear and Trust do not mix. You either have one or the other. If I am fearing, I am not (and can not) trusting. If I am trusting, I am not fearing.
David gives four steps to move from fear to trust, a cycle which I have to repeat not only daily, but often times hourly or more.
In order to remember it at 2 am when I awake and begin to fear I had to put it into an acrostic. (If you can think of a better one that I could remember at 2 am, please let me know in the comments. I could use it.)
The 4 steps that Psalm 56 explain to move from fear to trust are these: (P.R.A.Y.)
P – Pray – Take the problem to God in prayer (this entire psalm is a prayer to God). If you can remember and act on this one, you are already beginning to experience the peace of God.
R – Rehearse – God’s Character. Look at what the psalm says about God. He is: Gracious (1); Supreme over the peoples (7); All knowing (8); Remembering (8); Caring (9); Deliver (13). This is stunning placed in contrast to the limitations of humanity (5, 11)!
A – Actively choose to trust (3,11). Talking to yourself isn’t bad (it can be awkward if you do it out loud in front of people, don’t get me wrong!). We need to be preaching to ourselves, actively choosing to trust. David says, “I will trust” several times in this short prayer.
Y – Yield your “control” of the future – Boasting in his promises (4,9,10). The term translated “praise” in the ESV is הלל (hallel). You have probably heard of the Hallel Psalms, those which are focused on praising God. The idea can also be “boast.” Praising God is boasting in him. He is the true God! Here David praises/boasts in the promises God has given. His word can be the source of our boasting.
To hear our personal testimony about Fear and Trust you can listen here.