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“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (PSALM 56:3-4)

As a person who struggles with a lot of fear and doubt, I am constantly beating myself up for not trusting God enough. To me, trusting in God is this strange, elusive concept that I can’t ever seem to get right. I mean, I believe in him, I study his word, I pursue his truth, I seek to follow his guidance, and yet I still battle with fear on the daily.

If you’re anything like me, you have probably found yourself in the same frustrating conundrum. You believe that God is trustworthy, and you know that you’re supposed to trust him, but fear always seems to get in the way.

I have always seen fear as a kind of measuring stick for my level of trust in God. I tend to live by this internal, unspoken rule that says, “the more I fear, the less I trust. The more I trust, the less I will fear.”

Now, depending on how you look at it, this might be true to some extent. But for me, as I dig beneath the surface, I find that this statement is drenched in a deceptive legalism that leaves me feeling guilty every time fear strikes.

Look at the first word of Psalm 56:3—


When I am afraid.

Fear happens. Fear will always happen. Fear does not measure whether or not you trust in God. Fear does not measure how much you trust in God. Fear is not the measuring stick.

What you do with your fear is the measuring stick.  

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”

Right now, my daughter Avra (17 months) trusts me more than any other person on the planet. She knows that I am here to meet her every need. When she is hungry, I feed her. When she is tired, I put her to bed. When she is cold, I warm her up. When she is sick, I nurse her back to health. She has experienced my provision over and over again, and she knows she can count on me.

But that doesn’t mean that she never gets scared when I’m around. Though she confidently trusts in my ability to care for her, some things just spook her. And what does she do when she is afraid? She runs directly to me. She reaches out for me to pick her up, cradle her in my arms, and calm her raging fears.

I think that trusting in God might look a little bit like that. I think it has less to do with the presence of fear in your life, and much more to do with your response to it.

Where do you run when fear sets in? What do you cling to and how do you cope?

In Psalm 56, we see that David’s answer to these questions was God. As he ran to the Lord, offered him praise, and rested in his presence, David was reminded that he had nothing to fear because God could handle it. Just like Avra trusts her mama to hold her through her trepidation until her spirit finds rest, so David placed his trust in the almighty arms of God, knowing that only there would he find the confidence and peace he needed to conquer his fear.

When we trust God, we know that he is a safe place. Trusting him doesn’t mean we’ll never face fear or find ourselves in scary situations. But it means that we know where to turn when terror strikes. We don’t run away or shut down. Instead, we reach up our hands to the God of the universe—our loving father—who is ready and waiting to pick us up, cradle us in his arms, and calm our raging fears.

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