ODJ: With Us

March 25, 2018 

READ: Psalm 23:1-6 

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid (v.4).

Marilynne Robinson, the Pulitzer-winning author of Gilead and Home, has, in addition to her marvellous fiction, also spent much time pondering the current plight of modern America. Robinson has especially contemplated Christian faith in these times, and how modern pressures erode and distort our faith in insidious ways. Though there are numerous causes for our predicament, Robinson suggests that these questions always return her to a two-part conviction: “First, contemporary America is full of fear. And second, fear is not a Christian habit of mind.”

Yet we are a people drowning in fear. The 24-hour news cycle peddles fear. Politicians motivate with fear. Too many religious leaders fuel their causes by fear. Terrified by all this anxiety, we exert great amounts of energy trying to manage our fears, trying to avoid anything (or anyone) that seems threatening or risky. We want absolute security, whatever the cost.

The psalmist, however, paints a different picture. Rather than avoiding the treacherous places, the psalmist describes what it is like to go through them—to walk right through—whistling free as a bird. We don’t need to fear the terrifying possibilities because “even when [we] walk through the darkest valley, [we] will not be afraid, for you are close beside [us]” (23:4). It is possible to live with joy instead of fear—not because there’s nothing to be afraid of, but because God is with us in the midst of our fear. God’s authority and power are with us. “Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me,” the psalmist says (v.4).

We can reject the fears of our age. We can live with faith and hope because of God’s love (v.6). He’s with us, and we need not be afraid.

—Winn Collier

365-day plan: 1 Samuel 14:1-23

Meditate on John 14:27. Before going to the cross, what did Jesus give His followers? How is His gift different than what the world offers? 
What fears persist in your life? When have you been overwhelmed by anxiety? What would it look like for you to walk with God through the fear rather than avoid it?