Season: 10 Episode: 150
Listen to episode 146 in Spanish:
Do you know you have control over where to put your trust? Yes, you should pray. Yes, you should read your Bible. But only you can choose to PUT your trust in God. How you live, talk, and think reveal the choice you make. Shanda shares how to trust in the Lord when you’re afraid, and then she walks you through one of the most comforting Psalms – Psalm 91. This episode will encourage you and remind you of why you can put your trust in the Most High God who protects you, keeps you, and is in control over everything under the sun.
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I like to be transparent with you guys and let you know when God deals with me or the struggles I sometimes face. If it helps you by sharing what God teaches me along the way as I live this life, then that’s a good thing. The body of Christ is supposed to encourage each other.
Last week I dealt with some fear over the current events in the Middle East.
If you’re familiar with Bible prophecy and why there’s always unrest, then you know that if you want to know what’s going on with the Lord’s return and the end times, keep your eyes on Israel.
And of course there’s always going to be wars and rumors of wars, as Jesus told us there will be. That doesn’t mean we should just accept what is happening in Israel and the terror attacks and be neutral about the evil that took place on October 7th. But this episode isn’t about that. This episode is about the fear that strikes the heart of the Christian and where we place our trust.
I’ve told you all before that I’ve struggled with anxiety in the past and I know God has helped me through it by transforming my mind by His word. When you know God on a deeper level, you can trust Him in times of stress. That doesn’t mean it won’t take a bit of diligence on where to place your thoughts when you’re tempted to fret over things that you have absolutely no control over.
With all of that said, I want to talk to you today about how to deal with the fear when it tries to creep in.
We’re going to do that by looking at a few things:
- What does it mean that you can place your trust?
- Where is this Secret Place and why is it necessary?
- Where do we go from here as we push stop on this episode? With all the evil going on in the world, what do we do so we are not consumed by it?
Last week I got a text from someone on a completely unrelated issue about feeling defeated and overwhelmed with her situation. She said people are praying for her, she’s praying, she listens to worship music to get her mind off of the situation but she still can’t shake the feeling. My response to her was this: there are many types in the Bible where God gives us a choice. Joshua told the Hebrew people to choose this day who they will serve.
God said, “I set before you life and death. Choose life.” People will pray for you and you can read the Bible and listen to worship music. But the choice you make is evident in the way you live. If you choose to put your trust in God, then you will live your life like that. The words you speak, the thoughts you think, and the steps you take will show you made the choice to put your trust in God.
Fast forward to about 8 hours later and I was reading my words on that text to myself.
I found myself worrying about all the craziness in the world and my mind spun out of control to the worst possible things that could come from this Middle Eastern conflict. And that’s the way fear works for me. I fret over the big things that I have absolutely no control over. So what do I do? Remind myself of where I place my trust.
Why do I say it this way? Placing my trust as if it’s a choice I have? Because it is. In fact, it’s a choice you have as well.
First, you can’t trust someone you don’t know. That would be foolish. Trusting in God makes it a lot easier to do when you know who He is. God is a God that cannot lie. It’s not that He does not lie, which He doesn’t. But He cannot lie. It is not in His nature. He is the truth so He will not lie because it is impossible for Him to do. That means you can trust what God says He will do.
Another reason you can put your trust in God is because He works all things together for good (Rom 8:28). God has your best interest in mind. He is not only God over all of the universe, He is your Father. He is a good Father who gives good gifts to His children.
God has shown Himself faithful in my life.
I can honestly say that He has never failed me. He has done what no one else could possibly do and has protected, led, guarded, kept, surrounded me with His love and sustained me and my family. Why would He stop now? God is good and because He is infinite and timeless, there is no lack to His goodness. He is eternally faithful. When you walk with Him, the faithfulness He shows pushes us through the trials of today, knowing He will not drop the ball.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” Notice here that the writer of Proverbs (Solomon) tells you to Trust in the Lord – knowing it is in your power to do so. It is a command because it is something you can do without the help of others. It is your choice to do it.
If you do not put your trust in God, you will put your trust in something or someone else.
What other alternative do you have? Do you want to put your trust in yourself? If that worked, you would’t be fretting. Do you want to put your trust in another man? The words of another flawed human being? Do you want to put your trust in the strength of someone else? If we do not put our trust in God, it will be placed in something else and I don’t know of anyone comparable to a God whose word will never fall to the ground.
Psalm 25:1-7 says this about where to put your trust, “1 In you, LORD my God, I put my trust.
2 I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.
3 No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.
4 Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths.
5 Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
6 Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.
7 Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, LORD, are good.
8 Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
9 He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.
10 All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.
11 For the sake of your name, LORD, forgive my iniquity, though it is great.
David says several things about who God is and why he trusts Him.
The first is that He knows God will keep His word and His word is truth. Second, he says God is good and upright. And He guides the humble. And third, he says God is loving and faithful toward the who keep His word. David knew God and David placed his trust in God.
The point here is that you have a choice. You can choose to place your trust in God or you will choose to place your trust in someone else. And looking at the choices that you have, none compare to the God of heaven.
Those who choose to trust God live that way. That means they do not live in fear. They are not crippled by the things they see on the news or the circumstances of life. Even if they have to remind themselves of why they put their trust in God, they will review His attributes and be strengthened all over again – thus remembering why they put their trust in Him in the first place.
That brings me to the second point – what is the Secret Place?
I shared Psalm 91 with those on my Instagram and my email subscribers last week. It’s a free devotion I wrote a few years ago called The Secret Place. You can find that at shandafulbright.com/links and click on The Secret Place to download it.
Let me first tell you about Psalms 91 and why this one is my favorite during times of unease.
All the Psalms fall into categories of lament, royal or wisdom Psalms, Psalms of thanks, hymns, praise, and finally trust. Psalm 91 falls in the trust category. Psalm 91 is attributed to King David, who wrote many of the Psalms.
I love the opening verse in the NKJV which says, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High will abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Let’s linger here for a minute because this is where I get the title The Secret Place from. I love this poetry language. The Secret Place. Because God is not a secret and He is not hidden from us. So what does Secret Place mean? Charles Spurgeon said this, “The shadow of God is not the occasional resort, but the constant abiding-place, of the saint. Here we find not only our consolation, but our habitation, not only a loved haunt, but a home. We ought never to be out of the shadow of God. It is to dwellers, not to visitors, that the Lord promises his protection.”
Spurgeon, C. H. (1911). Under His Shadow. In The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons (Vol. 57, p. 434). London: Passmore & Alabaster.
To dwell and abide are synonyms.
It is a place of refuge and where you find rest. A shadow is the place where you are hidden. In other translations, like the ESV, it says shelter – so the Secret Place is the protection of the Lord because you know who He is. You know where to run when there is trouble or danger.
What I really want to emphasize here is the if – then sort of wording that isn’t necessarily apparent by the use of the words if/then. But the Psalmist is saying, if you dwell in the secret place of the most high you will abide under the shelter of the most high. Again, we see the language of choosing to abide or dwell here. Verse 2 says, “I will say of the Lord, my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.” I choose to dwell in the presence and protection of the Lord because I place my trust in Him. He is my God.
But this is also a claim, right?
The Psalmist is claiming that all of these terrible, horrible things can happen all around you and God will keep you. And anyone who makes a claim, which a claim can be argued and must be proven, must provide reasons. Otherwise it’s an assertion – something you state confidently as a fact. So let’s look at these claims and see what reasons the Psalmist gives for why we should put our trust in God.
Verses 3-13 make the claim that God is going to keep you. Keep you from what? Let’s break this down verse by verse:
3 – deliver from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.
4 – He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Pinions are part of a birds wings. Shields are used in battle to protect. The shield keeps the soldier from fiery darts.
5 – You will not fear the terror of the night nor the arrow that flies by day (6) Nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
7 – a thousand will fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
8 – You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked.
So here are the claims.
All of these terrible things will happen around you but nothing will happen to you. What I find a little ironic is that these things are scary. Just to see them would freak me out. We see all kinds of examples in scripture where God did not take His people out of the midst of trouble but kept them through it.
Noah was in the middle of the flood but he was kept through it.
The people of Israel were slaves in Egypt but God kept them.
Daniel was thrown into a lion’s den but God kept him through it.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace but kept through it. A lot of times we wonder why God would allow us to go through hard times. Why can’t God just prevent these things? There is a greater purpose beyond the prevention of the event in our lives. Just think about it – if God would have prevented all of the things we read about today and see His faithfulness through, how would we know who He is and what He can do in our own lives? So God is showing us here through Psalm 91 that the world around us is evil, but He is faithful. He will be our shield during these times when what we see might cripple us if we do not know Him.
The point here is that the destruction of the wicked will not affect a trusting believer.
It’s not immunity. It’s not like nothing bad will ever happen to the Christian because we do live in the world. The promise is not that God will keep you from these things but He will keep you in the midst of these things. One commentary says it this way: “Some threats lie in wait for us (3), some sneak up insidiously (3, 6); some are our own dreads, real or imaginary, some reflect hostility (5); some, again, we meet on life’s pathway (12–13). Life is like that. But simple trust brings us into a place of strong defence (2), the personal warmth of divine care, pledged defence (4) and a host of heavenly guardians every step of the way (11). The form in which all this is stated itself serves to affirm our protected status.”
Motyer, J. A. (1994). The Psalms. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 546). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.
Verse 9 – 13 talk about how God keeps you from the lion and the cobra and gives His angels charge over you.
And then, we see the speaker change from the Psalmist to God.
This Psalm can also be confusing at times because the tense also changes. But here we see the reason or why God would keep us in the midst of all these things. It reveals the if/then correlation throughout this Psalm. Verses 14-16 say, “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name.15 When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
Note there are three conditions (that’s the if/then correlation) to experience God’s divine protection:
- He loves me – we have to love God which means we have to know God.
- Knows my name – we’re going to get into the names of God soon.
- Prayer – we have ongoing communication with God. That’s part of trusting in and abiding in Him.
What are the names of God?
I think it was in one of Tim Keller’s sermons that he said Jesus is the first one who addressed God as Father, leading the way for us to address God as our father. Think about it – you have Hebrew scribes who rewrote the manuscripts and whenever they came to the name of God – YHWH – the would pick up a new pen, write His name, and then break the pen and start with a new one. They wouldn’t even speak the name of God. And then Jesus comes along and addresses God as Father.
The OT people did not have that kind of connection with God. They did not have the intimacy made available to God the Father through the Son by the Spirit. There are scripture references to God being the father of Israel – they are God’s chosen people – but it was not an individual type of intimacy that each of us now have because of Christ’s finished work on the cross.
In The Secret Place devotion, I mention the names of God – El Elyon, El Shaddai, YHWH, Jehovah Jireh – but Abba, which means Father in Aramaic, is one of the most significant names we see for God that people in the OT did not use.
It expresses confidence, affection, and trust.
If you don’t have a good earthly father, or never had an earthly father, it might be difficult to understand the significance of this name for God. But I invite you to explore it more deeply and to think on it. The Bible uses a lot of familial language like adoption, brother in Christ, sister in Christ, family of God. But to say that the God of the universe, the one who created all things – is our Father, shows the great significance in what kind of relationship we can have with Him. And remember – we are not all God’s children. We are all created by God. We are all designed by God, but to be a child of God means you have set your love upon Him. You choose to abide with Him and dwell with Him and obey Him because you have set your love upon Him.
John 1: 12-13 says 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
What does it mean that we can call God our Father?
It means we can run to Him when we are scared, when we’ve done something wrong and He will protect us. We belong to Him. Think of an earthly father who loves his children? Is anything going to come between that father and his child? Think of a child who is scared in the night and calls out to his father, is that father not going to come running?
God is a perfect father who is protective over His children. He watches over them. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He told them to start by saying, “Our Father …” We skip over that so quickly and don’t stop and truly think on the fact that we get to boldly approach the throne of grace and call God our father. Tell me another religion that does that.
So, now what?
There are a few things we have to remember – this world is not our home. We are not going to be here forever because this physical life is a very small part our existence.
Jesus told us that in this world we will have trouble but take heart, He has overcome the world. Jesus told us to to worry about our lives – what we will eat, drink or wear, because your heavenly father knows that you need them. And God clothes the lilies of the field and makes sure the sparrow has food – how much more is your life worth than that of many sparrows? God is watching over you.
Now, that doesn’t mean that we won’t be troubled. It won’t mean that we won’t be tempted to be anxious over things that happen in our lives.
So what do we do when that happens?
- Run to God and tell Him. He hears you when you call out to Him. Read Psalm 91 and you’ll know what I mean.
2. Trust in His word. God’s word never falls to the ground. He is not going to go against what He has promised. But also know this – He has not promised a smooth life. He has not promised a life without trouble and struggle. We live in the world. It is hard, there is death, sorrow and pain. But He does promise to be with us in the midst of it. All of those Joel Osteen people and Steven Furtick disciples – they’re going to realize they were lied to and misled when they fall on hard times and they’re surprised that the desires of their hearts weren’t being met by God.
The whole – you are enough and ask God anything – preaching is not going to suffice when the struggle is real. Because that is not the life God promised. What do they think about the disciples who gave their lives for Christ? Did they get the desires of their heart? I mean, they did but not in the way Furtick and Osteen think. Their preaching is feel good nonsense that will not keep anyone from the trials of life.
3. You have a choice to wake up every day and decide where you’re going to place your trust. Because you will place it somewhere. You’re going to trust yourself, you’re going to trust in the words of another flawed human being, or you’re going to place your trust in the God who knows all, sees all, is in control of it all, and to whom all will bow their knees and confess that He is Lord. I think I’ll put my trust in Him.
I want to encourage you that we are to be strong and courageous. I get tired of the doom and gloomers and hyper sensationalists on social media – many of them being Christians. They talk about how we’re in the end times and get right with Jesus, the rapture is going to happen. And the reality is we are always supposed to be ready. Jesus said He will return at a day and time no one knows. Yes, there is prophecy and we are to keep our eyes on Israel because as things ramp up over there, it is a telling sign that we are closer to what will take place in the end times.
But … with that said … we are not to buckle or fret. We are not to stop speaking the truth and showing up in life for those who need us. We are to stand strong in the Lord and on His word, trusting that He is watching over us and He is a good Father who will take care of us. That is all there is to it. That is what our focus should be. And let me tell you – do not neglect praying and reading your Bible. Do not accumulate for yourself false teachers. Get sound doctrine and do not lower your standards on the truth. Keep your spiritual eyes open and ask God to give you wisdom.
I hope that encourages you and I hope you will choose every day to put your trust in God. He is the only one whose word will not fall to the ground and He is faithful.
If you have any questions for me, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll catch you on the next one.