DON’T LET FEAR HOLD YOU HOSTAGE –
The Temple musician Asaph continues his lament about what happened to God’s people since King Solomon died and the religious downward spiral that increased under his son Rehoboam’s reign. This spiritual weakness led to the treachery of Jeroboam, the man King Solomon once appointed to help rebuild Jerusalem; who fled to Egypt as a fugitive and there conspired with King Shoshenk to invade Judah and install him as King of Israel. When Shoshenk and Jeroboam arrived to carry out their planned overthrow it caused Asaph to panic and cry out to God for deliverance. How could anyone who had been given so much, turn around and try to destroy it out of pride and envy. But He knew that God had the answer, even though it looked hopeless at the time.
“O One True God, it looks like You have abandoned us? But why would You do that? Why would You be mad at those You chose to take care of? Don’t forget, You were the one who claimed us believers as Your own a long time ago; the special people for whom You paid a ransom, and gave us the mountain where the sanctuary in which You dwell sits. You’ve got to do something to put an end to the outrageous way those who oppose us are desecrating Your sanctuary. How they rushed into Your sanctuary, cheering all the way as they waved their flags as an insult. Then like wild men swinging axes in the forest, they knocked all the symbols of our faith off the walls, and then they set fire to Your sanctuary and profaned the very place where Your presence dwells. They were yelling, ‘Let’s tear every one of these places down!’ They then took off to put the torch to every House of God throughout the country. Now there are no signs and wonders anymore; no more anointed preachers; and nobody seems to know when this will all end. So how much longer will You let them run wild like this; taunting us and blaspheming Your name over and over again? It looks like You just put Your hands in your pockets; pull them out and do something now! After all, You are our One True God, our Eternal King; You are supposed to provide religious freedom for Your people all over the earth. After all, You are in full control day and night; You’re the one who put the sun in place, who established earth’s seasons; summer and winter are Your idea. Never forget, our enemy has blasphemed You, O LORD Eternal; yes, these mindless fools have tried to ruin Your reputation. So don’t surrender Your darling to these monsters! Remember, You made a promise. So don’t let these things cause those being persecuted to become disappointed and backslide; make it possible for those who are down and out to celebrate You for who You are. O One True God, it’s time for You to send an awakening to support Your own cause.” Psalm 74:1-12, 16-19a, 20a, 21-22a
Reflection: Some years ago therapists did a study to determine what brought on people’s greatest fears and anxieties. They discovered that 40% of an average person’s worries come from things that will never happen—building bridges for rivers they will never cross; 30% came from things in the past that cannot be changed—constantly wishing for things the way they should be instead of the way they are; 12% from what they considered criticism by others—feeling inferior for no reason; 10% from concerns over health problems that didn’t exist—family history of certain diseases they may have inherited; but only 8% came from real problems they actually faced but had not yet decided how to cope with. Asaph had plenty to be upset about, and was in danger of letting his anxiety bog him down and diminish his importance to God so that he ended up wallowing in a mud puddle of hurt feelings. But he decided to trust the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to give His people back their sense of dignity, and allow them to worship Him without fear of the consequences. Experience tells us that God’s people triumph when they keep their fears from haunting them. We see this clearly in the lives of the three Hebrew children in Babylon; those who lived through the torture of Nazism and Communism. And even though the picture Asaph painted of the circumstances in his day is being repainted in the minds of many believers today as they see where our country and other countries in the world seem to be headed; we too can control our anxiety by allowing God to calm our fears. We must believe that nothing happens to us without His knowledge; without His permission; and without it serving His purpose for our lives. You can chose to trust this truth or allow fear to hold you hostage.