Sample D07 from Peter Eldersveld, "Faith Amid Fear" Radio message broadcast on "The Back-to-God Hour," The Denominational Broadcast of The Christian Reformed Church. Chicago 1961 Pp. 2-8. Used by permission 0010-1660 A part of the XML version of the Brown Corpus2,024 words 420 (20.8%) quotesD07

Peter Eldersveld, "Faith Amid Fear" Radio message broadcast on "The Back-to-God Hour," The Denominational Broadcast of The Christian Reformed Church. Chicago 1961 Pp. 2-8. Used by permission 0010-1660

Header auto-generated for TEI version

`` The Lord is my light and my salvation ; ; whom shall I fear ? ? The Lord is the strength of my life ; ; of whom shall I be afraid '' ? ? ( Psalm 27 : 1 )

A certain teacher scheduled a `` Fear Party '' for her fourth grade pupils . It was a session at which all the youngsters were told to express their fears , to get them out in the open where they could talk about them freely . The teacher thought it was so successful that she asks : `` Wouldn't it be helpful to all age groups if they could participate in a similar confessional of their fears and worries '' ? ?

Dr. George W. Crane , a medical columnist , thinks it would . He says : `` That would reduce neurotic ailments tremendously . Each week an estimated 20 million patients call upon us doctors . Of this number , 50% , or 10 million patients have no diagnosable physical ailments whatever . They are ' worry warts . Yet they keep running from one physician to another , largely to get a willing ear who will listen to their parade of troubles . One of the most wholesome things you could schedule in your church would thus be a group confessional where people could admit of their inner tensions '' .

We are evidently trying hard to think of new ways to deal with the problem of fear these days . It must be getting more serious . People are giving their doctors a hard time . One doctor made a careful survey of his patients and the reasons for their troubles , and he reported that 40% of them worried about things that never happened ; ; 30% of them worried about past happenings which were completely beyond their control ; ; 12% of them worried about their health , although their ailments were imaginary ; ; 10% of them worried about their friends , neighbors , and relatives , most of whom were quite capable of taking care of themselves . Only 8% of the worries had behind them real causes which demanded attention .

Well , most of our fears may be unfounded , but after you discover that fact , you have something else to worry about : Why then do we have these fears ? ? What is the real cause of them ? ? What is there about us that makes us so anxious ? ?

Look at the things we do to escape our fears and to forget our worries . We spend millions of dollars every year on fortune tellers and soothsayers . We spend billions of dollars at the race tracks , and more billions on other forms of gambling . We spend billions of dollars on liquor , and many more billions on various forms of escapist entertainment . We consume tons of aspirin and tranquilizers and sleeping pills in order to get a moment's relief from the tensions that are tearing us apart .

A visitor from a more peaceful country across the sea was taken to one of our amusement parks , and after he had seen it all , he said to a friend : `` You must be a very sad people '' . `` Sad '' was not the right word , of course . He should have said `` jittery '' , for that's what we are . And that's worse than sad . Watch people flock to amusement houses , cocktail lounges , and night clubs that advertise continuous entertainment , which means an endless flow of noise and frivolity by paid entertainers who are supposed to perform in those incredible ways which are designed to give men a few hours of dubious relaxation -- watch them and you can tell that many of them are running away from something .

In one of his writings Pascal speaks of this mania for diversion as being a sign of misery and fear which man cannot endure without such opiates . Yes , and as tension mounts in this world , fear is increasing . Does that explain why there is now such a big boom in the bomb shelter business ? ? We have so many new things to fear in this age of nuclear weapons , dreadful things which are too horrible to contemplate . I doubt that `` fear parties '' and `` group confessionals '' will help very much . Suppose we do get our fears out in the open , what then ? ? Isn't that where most of them are already -- right out on the front page of our newspapers ? ? Maybe we are talking about them too much . The question is : what are we going to do about them ? ?

Meanwhile , the enemy will capitalize on our fears , if he can . Hitler did just that 23 years ago , building up tensions that first led to a Munich and then to a world war . The fear of war can make us either too weak to stand and too willing to compromise , or too reckless and too nervous to negotiate for peace as long as there is any chance to negotiate . It is said that fear in human beings produces an odor that provokes animals to attack . It could have the same effect on Communists . The President of the United States has said : `` We will never negotiate out of fear , and we will never fear to negotiate '' . That is a sound position , but it is important that Moscow shall recognize it not merely as the word of a president but as the mind of a free people who are not afraid . And that's another reason why it is imperative for us these days to conquer our fears , to develop the poise that promotes peace .

Turning to the Word of God , we find the only sure way to do that . In Psalm 27 : 1 you read those beautiful words which you must have in your heart if you are to master the fears that surround you , or to drive them out if they have you in their grip : `` The Lord is my light and my salvation ; ; whom shall I fear ? ? The Lord is the strength of my life ; ; of whom shall I be afraid '' ? ?

Well , you say , those are beautiful words all right , but it was easy for the psalmist to sing them in his day . He didn't live in a world of perpetual peril like ours . He didn't know anything about the problems we face today .

No ? ? Read the next two verses : `` When the wicked , even mine enemies and my foes , came upon me to eat up my flesh , they stumbled and fell . Though an host should encamp against me , my heart shall not fear : though war should rise against me , in this will I be confident '' .

That is almost a perfect description of the predicament in which we find ourselves today , isn't it ? ? Our enemy is also threatening to devour us . He has already devoured huge areas of the world , putting men behind concrete walls and iron curtains and barbed wire , reducing them to slavery , systematically crushing not only their bodies but their souls , and shooting them to death if they try to escape their prison . Yes indeed , we too can see a warlike host of infidels encamped against us .

What a terrible thing , that `` wailing wall '' in Berlin ! ! A man with a baby in his arms stood there pleading for his wife who is on the other side with the rest of the family . Another man tried to swim across the river from the East to the West , but was shot and killed . A middle aged woman opened a window on the third floor of her house which was behind the wall , she threw out a few belongings and then jumped ; ; she was fatally injured . The entrance to a church has been walled up , so that the congregation , most of which is in the western sector , cannot worship God there anymore . Practically everybody in Berlin has relatives and friends that live in the opposite part of the city . People stand at the wall giving vent to their feelings , weeping , pounding it with their fists , pleading for loved ones . But the enemy answers them from loudspeakers that pour out Communist propaganda with a generous mixture of terrible profanity . There is only one escape left , a tragic one , and too many people are taking it : suicide . The normal rate of suicides in East Berlin was one a day , but since the border was closed on August 13 it has jumped to 25 a day ! !

These things may be happening many miles away from us but really they are right next door . We are all involved in them , deeply involved . And nobody knows what comes next . We live from crisis to crisis . And there is only one way for a man to conquer his fears in such a world . He must learn to say with true faith what the psalmist said in a similar world : `` The Lord is my light and my salvation ; ; whom shall I fear ? ? The Lord is the strength of my life ; ; of whom shall I be afraid '' ? ?

Notice that this man had a threefold conception of God which is the secret of his faith . First , `` the Lord is my light '' . He lived in a very dark world , but he was not in the dark . The same God who called this world into being when He said : `` Let there be light '' ! ! -- those were His very first creative words -- He began the world with light -- this God still gives light to a world which man has plunged into darkness . For those who put their trust in Him He still says every day again : `` Let there be light '' ! ! And there is light ! !

In fact , He came into this world Himself , in the person of His Son , Jesus Christ , who stood here amid the darkness of human sin and said : `` I am the light of the world : he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness , but shall have the light of life '' . The psalmist could say that God was his light even though he could only anticipate the coming of Christ . He lived in the dawn ; ; he could only see the light coming over the horizon . We live in the bright daylight of that great event ; ; for us it is a fact in history . Why should we not have the same faith , and an even greater experience of the light which it gives ? ?

This is the faith that moved the psalmist to add his second conception of God : `` The Lord is my salvation '' . He knew that his God would save him from his enemies because He had saved him from his sins . If God could do that , He could do anything . The enemies at his gate , threatening to eat up his flesh , were nothing compared with the enemy of sin within his own soul . And God had conquered that one by His grace ! ! So why worry about all the others ? ?

The apostle Paul said the same thing in the language and faith of the New Testament : `` He that spared not His own Son , but delivered Him up for us all , how shall He not with Him freely give us all things ? ? If God be for us , who can be against us ? ? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ ? ? Shall tribulation , or distress , or persecution , or famine , or nakedness , or peril , or sword '' ? ? ( Romans 31 , 32 , 35 )

Salvation ! ! This is the key to the conquest of fear . This gets down to the heart of our problem , for it reconciles us with God , whom we fear most of all because we have sinned against Him . When that fear has been removed by faith in Jesus Christ , when we know that He is our Savior , that He has paid our debt with His blood , that He has met the demands of God's justice and thus has turned His wrath away -- when we know that , we have peace with God in our hearts ; ; and then , with this God on our side , we can face the whole world without fear .

And so the psalmist gives us one more picture of God : `` The Lord is the strength of my life '' . The word is really `` stronghold '' . It recalls those words of another psalm : `` God is our refuge and strength , a very present help in trouble . Therefore will not we fear , though the earth be removed , and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea Come , behold the works of the Lord , what desolations He hath made in the earth .