494: What Can Man Do To Me? Not a Whole Lot
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When I Am Afraid, I Will Trust in You
There is uncertainty all around. And we, as the church, are in the beginning of a life of persecution that was promised by our Lord. Often uncertainty leads to fear, and fear crushes faith. But we are instructed in Psalm 56 to not fear but turn our fear into faith. David says, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You” (Psalm 56:3). And then twice, in the same Psalm, he affirms, “What can flesh do to me” (Psalm 56:4) and “What can man do to me?” (Psalm 56:11).
Great questions. And the answer is, “Not much, other than kill us.” But if we have a proper view of eternity, even death becomes an anticipation and not something to fear. Think about it.
Life is more than what we see and feel, much more than what we can experience with our senses. There is, on the one hand, the true reality that lasts forever with God, when this temporal, transitory, substitute reality ceases to be. And there is, on the other hand, the pre-game reality we exist in today. Jesus said we are living in this kingdom, this reality, but are actually citizens of His kingdom, of His reality, that has not yet physically manifested itself in this world. And the true, “abundant life” Jesus promised is reserved for those who physically exist in this temporal reality that is passing away, yet live and abide in the reality that lasts forever.
This is called living by faith. And it takes concrete action on our part to do.
When fear is brought into (or subject to) the presence of God, it dissolves right before our eyes, just like it did with David in Psalm 56 and elsewhere. And when for some reason it doesn’t vanish yet remains like a lingering cough after a bad cold, it is not because our fear is so large, or intimidating, or frightening.
It is simply because our God is too small.
But What Can Man Do To Me?
Jesus said we are not to fear those who have only limited power, who can do nothing more than take our lives. He said the one to fear is God, the One with unlimited power, who can not only do what man can do and take our lives, but also have the power and authority to cast us into hell. “Yes,” Jesus said, “I say to you, fear Him!”
“And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and (limited power) after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, (unlimited power) has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:4-5).
So are we to have that kind of relationship with the Father, one of fear and dread, like a young child living in an abusive home? Of course not. Because right after this Jesus lets us know how much we are loved and known by the Father and how much He truly cares for us. Jesus said:
“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered (not counted). Do not fear therefore; (why) you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7).
So no matter how much unrest, anger, and distrust there is all around us, do not fear. For the only One worthy of our praise and our fear, is God and God alone. And remember to confidently smile when things go from dusk to dark or from bad to worse. It is only another confirmation that Jesus is soon to return. So rejoice and look up, for “our redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28).