Posts tagged Fear
9 Spurgeon Quotes on Fear and Faith

According to Charles Spurgeon (here and here), Psalm 56:3—“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you”—holds a tension and, yet, a resolve that is uniquely characteristic of the Christian’s experience of fear. 

1. Spurgeon gives voice to inner complexities.

Notice, first, then, that here is David in a complex condition. He says, “I am afraid,” yet with the same breath he says, “I will trust in You.” Is not this a contradiction? It looks like a paradox. Paradox itmay be, but contradiction it is not!

2. He illustrates that intellectual qualms need not be viewed as displacing of faith.

You have seen a precious promise or a glorious Doctrine and you have believed it because you have found it in God’s Word. You have believed it so as to grasp it and feel it tobe your own, yet, perhaps, almost at the same time certain rationalistic thoughts have come into your mind and you have been vexed with doubts as to whether the promise is true. You remember, perhaps, the insinuations of others,or something risesup out of your own carnal reason that renders it difficult for you to believe, while at the same time you are believing! You battle with yourself—one selfseemsto say, “Is it so?” and yet your inner self seemsto say, “I could die for it, I know it is so!”

3. He teaches that there is courage in being honest about fears.

David says, “I am afraid.” Admire his honesty in making this confession. Some men would never have admitted that they were afraid. They would have blustered and said they cared for nothing! Generallythere is no greater coward in this world than the man who never will acknowledge that he is afraid.

4. He reminds that even when faith can stand to grow in those times of life when death seems impending, faith one can still have. And greater truths also abound.

But if, as a rule, you and I can think of death without any kind of fear, if no tremor ever crosses our minds, well then, we must have marvelously strong faith, and I can only pray we may be retained in that strength of faith! For the most partthere is such a thing as terror in prospectof death—the fear is often greater in prospect than in reality! In fact, it is always so in the case of the Christian.

[…]

And so the fear and the faith shall go on hand in hand together for a while, till at last perfect love shall come in and take the place of fear—and then faith and love shall go hand in hand to Heaven!

5. In noting the despondency of going anywhere but to God, and that being one’s end, he promotes gratitude for grace. 

It is a sure sign of Grace when a man can trust in his God, for the natural man, when afraid, falls back on some human trust, or he thinks that he will be able to laugh at the occasion of fear. He gives himself up to jollity and forgetful-ness, or perhaps he braces himself up with a natural resolution—"To take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them." He goes anywhere but to his God.

6. He puts on display the illogical nature of natural human impulses.

You say, "I feel so dead and cold, I have not the spiritual vivacity and warmth and life that I used to possess. I used to come up to the Tabernacle and feel such joy and rejoicing in worshipping on God's Holy Day, but now I feel flat and dull." Oh, but do not be tempted to get away from Christ because of this! Who runs away from the fire because he is cold? Who, in summer, runs away from the cooling brook because he is hot? Should not my deadness be the reason why I should come to Jesus Christ?

7. He teaches that when lamenting over a life that has created, of oneself, nothing that pleases God, but only the opposite—to then rejoice, for grace is true.

When I can see marks of Grace in myself, to trust Christ is easy—but when I see no marks of anything good, but every mark of everything that is evil and then comeand cast myself upon Him and believethat He can save me, even me, and rest myself upon Him—this is the faith which honors Christ and which will save us! May you have it and such time as you are afraid of sin, may you trust in Christ!

8. He is honest and serves as an example of how to respond inthe starkest realizations unworthiness.

I dare to say these ancient words [of Psalm 56:3] tonight from the depths of my soul! I am afraid of my sins! I am afraid of my unworthiness! I never live a day but what I see reason to be afraid! If I had to stand all by myself, I would be afraid to stand before God! If I had never done anything in my life but preach this one sermon, there have been so many imperfections and faults in it that I am afraid to place any reliance upon it! But my Lord Jesus, You are my soul's only hope. I trust entirely in You!

9. Best of all, he takes Christ at his word.

A Christian has no right to be always saying—"Do I love the Lord or no? Am I His, or am I not?" He may be compelled to say it, sometimes, but it is far better for him to come just as he is and throw himself at the foot of the Cross and say, "Savior, You have promised to save those that believe! I believe, therefore You have saved me!" I know some think this is presumption, but surely it is worse than presumption not to believe God! And it is true humility to take God at His word and to believe Him.

In the day of being afraid, Spurgeon teaches that Christian confidence is not in one’s inner state, intellectual reachings, adequacy of confession, absence of future experiences of fear, coping abilities (i.e. humor or human resolve), history of actions and inactions, or self-perception. With all of these in view—and the cause for fear growing when considering each one—“when I am afraid, I put my trust in you” (Ps. 56:3). A Christian’s confidence in fear is that God does exist as One who, of his own incomprehensible decision and grace, rewards those who seek him (Heb. 11:6).

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MainLianna DavisFear
A Good Relationship with the Future

On moving day, I mostly reclined, having been barred from packing heavy items, lifting boxes or furniture, and reaching to hang pictures or put items in tall cabinets. This was a benefit of making the move late in the third trimester of pregnancy. Watching, I thought to myself, This is it—this is my future. 

But those words were starting to have less and less of their desired effect on me, and I knew it.

After all, we had lived in three different homes within two years, and I had said the same thing to myself about each one. From my sitting perch, I was directing the placement of pieces of furniture, rugs, plates, and pictures. I could direct the future as well as my very pregnant self could have, say, lifted the piano into the foyer. But that did not keep me from making claims on permanency, despite every move doing more to dampen my attempts at accomplishing it.

I had left behind visions for a lasting home. I could not think too much about those past homes, with their failed hopes of staying, without cringing. The start of a new one had me wondering if its claims toward permanency would eventually fade, too.

Fearfully Grasping an Uncertain Future

Daniel in the Bible knew something about a lack of permanency after being exiled from his home country at a fairly young age, when it was conquered by the king of Babylon. Daniel’s relationship with the future was on display when the king, Nebuchadnezzar, wanted the “wise men” of Babylon to interpret a dream that was especially troubling to him (Daniel 2:1-16).

This was a standard request in that day, especially for a culture that believed their gods spoke through dreams.1But this young king had a unique request: that these men first tell him, supernaturally, the dream itself. If they could not speak of this secret knowledge, he would kill them all. By “kill them all,” he did not mean only those who had been given an opportunity to speak with him—he meant allthe wise men of Babylon. This included God’s faithful servant, Daniel.

Of course, the men could not do as the king requested, failing to interpret his dream. Daniel was not included in this initial group.

The young king may have desired to prove himself tough enough for the job, or to prove his men loyal. Yet, he was likely troubled because he feared for his uncertain future, as implied in his dream. In Nebuchadnezzar’s worldview, a troubling dream meant fearing for his security. He took this as reason to set aside all prudence with the sole purpose of understanding its meaning. To him, his health, wealth, and kingdom—all that secured his future—was subject to the untethered whims and impulses of the gods.

So, right as the blood was about to be shed and the guards made their way to Daniel, he asked a question to understand:

Then Daniel replied with prudence and discretion to Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon. He declared to Arioch, the king’s captain, “Why is the decree of the king so urgent?” Then Arioch made the matter known to Daniel. (Daniel 2:14)

Nebuchadnezzar serves as a good foil for Daniel. After all, Daniel was confronted with his own dire circumstance because of the king. What did Daniel do when the guards came to him with the order to kill? He asked a question. Then, he made a request for time.

Because of his careful efforts, he was given the opportunity to demonstrate that his God had control over all things—past, present, and future. The first actions he took when facing his impending death were deliberate, calm, prudent, and discerning. Unlike Nebuchadnezzar, his priority was not to do whatever was necessary to secure the status of his future in this world. He took the matter carefully into account, including his standing with the king that allowed him to make the request for time, along with the king’s unwieldy temper that required his calm planning. Daniel faithfully based his actions upon those calculations. When he was about to be killed, he demonstrated a good relationship with his future—whatever his future on earth might be.

Prudently Evaluating a God-Ordained Future

Sitting in my home months after our move, and looking around at the furniture and hangings on the wall, I have the impression of what I want. We are settled into every corner of this place. My nine-month-old baby is playing with her things, which means picking up each toy for a brief examination and then tossing it behind her—one toy after the other. That is the message I have had for my things; they have all been tossed around over the past months, moved in and out, in and out. Perhaps this is actually a message they tell about my claims on staying. Either way, they speak far more to me about uncertainty than about being settled.

Perhaps this was one benefit for Daniel of having been exiled: not believing his permanency to be dependent upon his location. I want a good relationship with my future, too—to resemble Daniel’s calm in uncertainty, as opposed to Nebuchadnezzar’s recklessness. Daniel knew both that the future was to be wisely evaluated and, simultaneously, that it was not his to determine.

Daniel’s perspective about the future allowed him to use prudence in three ways:

  • Daniel used prudence to plan:“The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving” (Proverbs 14:8).

  • Daniel used prudence in being cautious:“The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it” (Proverbs 27:12).

  • Daniel used prudence to weigh and discern:“The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps” (Proverbs 14:15).

Daniel, however, could only be planning, cautious, and discerning because of the God of providence. Of any foil in this story, the gods of Nebuchadnezzar best juxtapose the one true God. These non-existent gods could not reveal Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, nor did they inspire in Nebuchadnezzar any calm or care. But the one true God is sovereign and all-knowing, inspiring prudence and praise. When God reveals the dream, Daniel worships:

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,

to whom belong wisdom and might…

…he reveals deep and hidden things;

he knows what is in the darkness,

and the light dwells with him.

To you, O God of my fathers,

I give thanks and praise,

for you have given me wisdom and might,

and have now made known to me what we asked of you,

for you have made known to us the king’s matter. (Daniel 2:20, 22-23)

Our furniture, rugs, plates, and pictures fit so well in this home, but the question of staying is for God alone to answer. Were I to answer it, I would be like the imprudent Nebuchadnezzar, looking to the gods on their perches for understanding. I would be the false gods, too, reacting to my future through untethered whims and impulses.

Rather, Daniel’s God is our God. He has worked all things together for our salvation by providentially arranging the workings of the world to accomplish it:

Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. (Acts 2:22-23)

Furthermore, he has providentially called us to himself for all eternity:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30)

If the transience of life feels counter to the solid circumstances you desire, remember that the gospel secures an eternal future with all permanency and staying-power. This permanency is ours as solidly as Christ defeated sin and death; ours as surely as he is in the heavenly places now; and ours as permanently as Christ’s victory is everlasting. Fittingly, “prudence” is an alteration of the word “providence.” For the praiseworthy providence of God demonstrated in the gospel is the prudent person’s most important calculation of all.

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