For the one who has experienced trauma the overwhelming cloud of fear seems to be always looming on the horizon. Even the best of days can quickly turn as anxious thoughts and feelings erase anything good that may have happened. One of the most difficult things about these fears is that they often do not make sense. When others ask why there is fear or exactly what brought this fear on the only answer that can honestly be given is: “I don’t know!” It may not make sense and may be difficult to explain, but fear is real and overwhelming and at times even devastating.
The great Psalmist of Israel, David, was someone who understood fear. Most of his life was spent dealing with events that we call “traumatic” and certainly brought a great deal of fear into his life. When reading the Psalms it is clear that often the issue he is explaining is an overwhelming fear that no one else in his life seems to understand. He uses vivid language to describe a fear that would cause him to feel like he was already dead and lead him to spend whole nights crying to the point of absolute exhaustion.
That is what makes the Psalm in today’s reading so amazing. David contrasts the overwhelming fear and anxiety caused by a life full of trauma with a fear of God! Fear that causes overwhelming despair makes it nearly impossible to look beyond one’s own hurts, brokenness and failure and creates a self-defeating cycle of fear that is nearly impossible to break. The fear of God, however, is a focus outside of oneself on the giver of life and hope! When the clouds of fear and anxiety begin to form, it is only by understanding and accepting that there is a God who is bigger than those fears that drives the clouds away. Fear of God is an overwhelming awe of who He is. He is the creator and sustainer of life and loved each of us so much that He has provided eternal life to defeat the ultimate fear of death.
When fear begins to obscure your view, turn your eyes to God who is worthy of fear, a holy respect, and awe because of who He is and His great love for you.