King David faced many perilous times, including personal attacks, enemy invasions, national war and family betrayal. He understood the feeling of fear, yet responded with confidence. Psalm 27 is a prayer that reveals his attitude in the face of war. There are many types of wars (or battles) other than between nations: wars within our hearts, within the home, on our streets, and in our culture. Any of this sound familiar? Life is not easy. We often cannot choose our circumstances, but we can choose how we respond to them.

King David chose to look to the Lord instead of his circumstances. In the last year I have learned to look to the Lord (the overcomer of my circumstances) instead of at the circumstances themselves. When I look at the circumstances I experience fear, anxiety, depression, and shame. If you are feeling any of these things, ask yourself where you are looking. In the first verse of Psalm 27 David tells us where to look: “The Lord is my light and my salvation–whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life–of whom shall I be afraid?”

Fear is a dark shadow that envelopes us and ultimately imprisons us within ourselves. Everyone has been a prisoner of fear at one time or another–fear of rejection, misunderstanding, uncertainty, sickness, or even death. But we can conquer fear by trusting in the Lord who brings salvation. If we want to dispel the darkness of fear, let’s remember that “The Lord is my light and my salvation”. What is important to note in this psalm is that David does not just call out to the Lord in his distress, He has a daily relationship with the Lord. David sought God’s guiding presence every day. When trouble came his way, he was already in God’s presence and was prepared to handle any test. And the Lord “found David son of Jesse, a man after [His] own heart”.

Time and again, God has shown His faithfulness. He hasn’t changed on us, so we can be confident He has the power and wisdom to walk us through our valleys of the shadow of death. I have found that when I put God in a box (and limit what I think He can accomplish), when my focus is on earthly things and troubles, then I know that the enemy is throwing fiery darts at me; and I know it’s time to suit up for battle (Eph. 6:10-13). It’s time to remember who is it who is stirring up fear, and it isn’t from the Lord. The chorus of one of my favorite songs shows this: “Fear, he [the devil] is a liar; He will take your breath, stop you in your steps; Fear he is a liar; He will rob your rest, steal your happiness. Cast your fear in the fire ‘Cause fear he is a liar.”

When we try to go through a trial on our own steam and our own wisdom, it won’t go well for us. “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” (1 Cor. 1:27) We must come to Him humbly, and seek His guidance and wait for His response. “Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors” (Ps. 27:11).

The Lord led me to a passage this last year that is both a promise and my guidance: “At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’” (Matthew 11:25-30)

I have learned that while I have been blessed with intelligence, I am not always wise (especially when my pride gets in the way). If I seek the Father’s wisdom, I must become humble and admit that He is God, and I am not. And then I must do what He says. I must lay my burdens at the feet of His cross, leave them there, and take on His yoke that He carries with me. We may be carrying heavy burdens of sin, excessive demands, oppression, persecution, depression, shame, anxiety or fear. Jesus frees us from all of these burdens–gives us rest from them as His shoulders carry the burdens for us.

A relationship with Jesus changes meaningless, wearisome toil into spiritual productivity and purpose, and frees us from those burdens. Our confidence comes from our relationship with Christ. He is our High Priest, and through His intercession, we can “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Is there anything in your life that is keeping you from having that confidence and making the choice to trust in the Lord? If so, I invite you to “take [His] yoke upon you and learn from [Him], for [He is] gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt. 11:29)