Friday, June 25, 2010

The Asaph approach to conquering fear

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Psalm 77:1-20

TO CHEW ON: "And I said, 'This is my anguish; But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.' I will remember the works of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old." Psalm 77:10-11

One characteristic of memory is that it is selective. We tend to remember the good over the bad. Think back to your childhood. Chances are it will seem an idyllic, happy time. "Those were the good old days," we say. Somehow the fears, embarrassments, boredoms and dissatisfactions are not what we remember first about the past.

Memories -- good memories -- are what Asaph, the psalmist, uses to conquer his fearful thoughts during a very bad time. He is in a "day of trouble" where he prays all night long (vs. 2). He feels so overwhelmed even thoughts of God don't comfort him (vs. 3). He is troubled sleepless and speechless (vs. 4).

Then he decides to take himself and his negative thoughts in hand. "But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High." He reviews God's attributes in a series of rhetorical questions (vs. 7-8) and recalls times from the past when God appeared unbeatable:

There was the time God redeemed "the sons of Jacob and Joseph" (vs 15) -- a reference, perhaps, to God saving the Israelites from famine by bringing them to Egypt where Joseph had stored up food.

There was the time "The waters saw You and they were afraid" (vs. 16) -- a reference to the parting of the Red Sea when the Egyptians were hot on their heels.

There was the time "You led Your people like a flock, By the hand of Moses and Aaron" (vs. 20) -- a reference to their 40 years in the wilderness.

Are you in a desperate, fearful, can't-sleep-because-of-troubled-thoughts time? Or maybe it's just a thin-cloud-of-anxiety, or bad-premonition, or can't-stop-worrying-about-things-up-ahead time. Whatever causes your spirit to "complain" use the Asaph approach to conquering fear.

1. Ask yourself the rhetorical questions he asks, to remind yourself about the bigness of God:
- "Will the Lord cast off forever?"
- Will He be favourable no more?"
- Has His mercy ceased forever?" etc. (vs. 7-9).
The answer: Of course not!

2. Think back to specific instances in your life when God has come through for you. Has He preserved your life in a dramatic way? Has He helped you through financial difficulties? Has He answered prayers, made you a part of amazing "coincidences," showered you with everyday mercies? Go back even farther to reviewing the history of your family, your people. Reminisce yourself into a place where you can exclaim like Asaph did: "Who is so great a God as our God? You are the God who does wonders; You have declared Your strength among the peoples" (vs. 13-14).

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for evidences of Your presence in my life. Thank You for memories that reassure me of Your ability, power and love. Amen.

MORE: Matt Redman sings "How Great Is Your Faithfulness"

Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.


  1. Anonymous6:01 AM

    Violet, I get your posts by email and rarely click back through to leave a comment, but I always appreciate them. After this one, I had to come and say thank you--this is good, solid teaching on something we all need. May God use this post to encourage many of His people.

    And thanks for introducing me to a new song. Matt Redman uses his gift so well.

  2. Thank you, Janet! So good to hear from you. Much appreciate your comments (though, as you probably know, it is enough that you are still reading - comments are the icing).


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