“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3 NLT)
As someone who has struggled with fear and anxiety for most of my life, these words of David are comforting.
When you’re afraid, it can be easy to feel like your faith is lacking, to think that if you really trusted God you wouldn’t be afraid.
But trust is not the absence of fear; it’s a choice about how to respond to fear. David doesn’t say that because he trusts in God he won’t fear. He says that when he is afraid (not if!) he will choose to put his trust in God.
How does he do this?
First of all, he comes to God and talks honestly about his situation. He is being attacked and hounded by his enemies, and he tells God about what is bothering him. (Psalm 56:1-2)
He holds to God’s promises. This is where the trust comes in. Three times in the Psalm he says, “I praise God for what he has promised.” (v4,10) It’s as if he is reminding himself that God’s promises are true even though he can’t see the evidence of that in his current situation. He chooses to believe that God will do what he says, even if the answer to prayer doesn’t come quickly or in the way he expects.
He remembers that God sees his pain and that God cares: “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in a bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” (Psalm 56:8 NLT)
He reminds himself that God is bigger than the challenges he faces. (v11)
He puts his hope in something much more lasting than his temporary challenging circumstances (v13) – God has rescued him from death and, he can walk in God’s light, which gives life and hope no matter what darkness he faces.
This challenges me about how I respond to my own anxiety-inducing circumstances. Do I allow myself to be sucked into a downward spiral of worry, or can I echo David’s words?
“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.”