Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
“What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” Psalm 56:3
Let us consider for a little while some of the springs of human fear, and then notice how many of our fears spring from the imagination. It has been said (and I think truly said) that life is ruled by the imagination. The things we picture and weave in glowing colors have a very powerful influence over conduct. Often that influence is stimulative, illumining the pathway to discovery; often it creates or liberates fear. People who are highly sensitive are far more apt to be fearful than their neighbours. There are a hundred fears that never touch the man of stolid, unimaginative nature. That is why for a certain type of person to be brave may be comparatively easy, and for another infinitely hard.
Now, the worst thing about this kind of fear is that reason is powerless to allay it. You might as soon allay a fire with good advice. The argument is cold. It cannot banish the specters of the soul. It has no brush that can obliterate the pictures of the imagination. But there is another way, more powerful than reason, to overcome imaginative fears, and that is the way of this inspired Psalmist. Faith is the antidote to fear. It quiets fear as the mother quiets her child. The child still dreams, but the dreams are not reality. It is the mother’s arms that are a reality. So we, His children, dreaming in the darkness and sometimes very frightened by our dreams, find “underneath the everlasting arms.”
Weakness of Body
Another very common source of fear is weakness or frailty of body. Everyone is familiar with that. When we are strong and well it is not difficult to keep our fears at bay. Fears, like microbes, do not love the sunshine. They need the darkness for their propagation. That is why, when the lights of life are dim, we readily become the prey of fearfulness. We can bear burdens without a thought when we are strong and vigorous and well; we can meet tasks with quiet hearts; we can bravely face difficulties–but these seem insurmountable when we are worn and often plunge us into the lowest pit. We must never forget how the state of the mind is affected by the condition of the body. Health is not alone the source of happiness. It is one of the perennial springs of hope. Many of our vague uncharted fears which haunt us and rob us of the sunshine are rooted in the frailty of our bodies.
Now I have no doubt that many of my readers are far from being physically perfect. The fact is, there are very few of us who could be described as physically perfect. And to all such, whatever their condition, I want to give these wonderful words of Scripture: “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” He knows our frame. He remembers we are dust. He made us and He Understand us. He alone can perfectly appreciate the interactions of body and of mind. And when we trust Him in a childlike faith, nothing is more evident in life than the way in which He disappoints our fears. His grace is sufficient for us. Often when we are weak, then are we strong. Drawing from Him we find we have our fullness, given us daily as the manna was, until at last the “body of our humiliation” shall be fashioned like His glorious body, and then such fears will be laid to rest forever.
Faculty of Conscience
I close by naming one other source of fear, and that is the faculty of conscience. A guilty conscience is a fearing conscience—-conscience makes cowards of us all. If we could get rid of conscience, what fears would go whistling down the wind! But God has so created us, that that is the one thing we cannot do. We may drug and dope it, we may silence it, we may sear it as with an iron, but, like the maiden, it is not dead but sleeping. It awakens in unexpected seasons, sometimes in the stillness of the night, or when our loved ones are removed in death, or when we see our sins bearing fruit in others; perhaps most often in our dying hours when the flaming colors of time no longer blind us and we draw near to the revelation of eternity. All the fears of our imagination, all the fears that spring from weakly bodies, all these, however haunting, are nothing to the fears of conscience. And the tremendous fact, never to be disputed by any theory of its evolution, is that God has put a conscience in the breast.
But He who has put a conscience in the breast has done something more wonderful than that. To minister relief to fearing conscience, He has put His Only-begotten on the tree. There, explain it as you will, is freedom from the hideous fears of conscience. There, explain it as you will, is released from the terrors of our guilt. One trustful look at the Lord Jesus Christ dying upon the cross of Calvary and the fearfulness of conscience is no more. There is now therefore no more condemnation. Pardoned, we have joy and peace. God is for us on the cross, and if God be for us, who can be against us? Blessed Saviour, who didst die for us and whose blood cleanseth from all sin, What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.