Jill would begin by worrying about finances. Things were tight and the economy was down. Being a Christian and knowing she should trust God (Matt 6:25-34) caused her fear to be replaced by guilt. Guilt did a good, short-term job of replacing fear, but it made her feel far from God.
The distance from God left her weak to other fears. “What if the kids get made fun of at school because we don’t get them the cool shoes… What if something goes wrong with the car… What if my fear makes me less attractive to my husband… What if…?” These fears created a new onslaught of guilt for not trusting God. Much of her life was a tennis match between anxiety and guilt over anxiety. It took one to interrupt the other.
She never realized how much God could relate to her experience. She thought that because God had nothing to fear that He was aloof to her struggle. One day a friend walked her through Psalm 121.
“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come (v. 1)?”
The psalm begins with David in battle. When the war is intense he looks to the hills for reinforcements. He begins to doubt. Will help make it in time? Which hill will they come over? Do I just want to believe their coming? David’s fears begin to sound like Jill’s.
“My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth (v. 2).”
David reminds himself of the truth he needed to hear. His fear made him quick to forget that the very hills he scanned for help were craftsmanship of the God who was for him. Jill can rest in the fact that David also had to remind himself of these kinds of truths. More than this, Jill can rest in the fact that God inspired David to pen these words and include them in Scripture for His anxious children.
“He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber (v. 3).”
David anticipates the next round of fears that will assault him and his men. Will God keep his feet strong for the journey ahead? Will God take care of him when he is asleep near the battle field? David is not living poetry; he is living a battle. The poetry came later. David remembers these things because they were hard to cling to during the battle. Jill can relate to how remembering God’s faithfulness can easily devolve into focusing on the bad situation in which God must be faithful.
“Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep (v. 4).”
David again reminds himself of truth about God. David may sleep near his enemies, but God never sleeps on David’s enemies. David was being forced to live that “God’s strength was made perfect in his weakness (2 Cor. 12:9)” and he was easily distracted. Jill was amazed to see that she shared so much in common with “a man’s after God’s own heart” even in the moments she felt distant from God.
“The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night (v. 5-6).”
David anticipated another round of fears. What if we grow weak in the oppressive heat of the sun? How can we keep this up all day? Or, what will we do when night comes and we can no longer see our enemy? I know God doesn’t have limits, but I do. What happens then? Jill began to smile as she realized how much God could understand the way she thought. It was amazing to think that God have her shameless words like Psalm 121 to speak-sing back to Him in her moments of fear.
“The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore (v. 7-8).”
David reminds himself of the far-reaching truths of God’s protection. They cover all of life; from when he leaves his door until he returns home and from this moment as far as time or his imagination can extend. God’s faithfulness is found not only in his power and sovereignty but also his loving understanding. Walking with God in His Word through her “bouncy” fears gave Jill great confidence that she could cast her cares on God because He really did care for her (I Pet. 5:7).