Faith and Fear

Alec Motyer, commenting on Psalm 56 (my text for this Lord’s Day morning), has the heart of a shepherd in what he writes:

“[Faith] changes our view of how things are, but, more than that, when true faith issues in prayer, the prayer of faith changes the things themselves. David is our true example. He could have indulged in the all-too-easily asked questions, but in his psalm we find no ‘why?’ or ‘why me?’ or ‘why for such a long time?’ or ‘why now?’ He went the harder way, which is also the effective way. Faith is not the ability to answer perplexing questions; faith is trustful resting in the care of a Person, who has convincingly revealed himself as the God of grace (56:1), and who, therefore, does all things well. And prayer proved effective: as verse 9 says: as prayer was made, the enemies retreated.

“This is the lesson David learned in his Philistine escapade, the lesson his autobiographical psalms would share with us. When people say – as they unfortunately often do – that some deep sadness has made it impossible for them to believe in God, they confuse faith with cleverness, ability to unravel life’s mysteries. It is not so. Faith is a relationship with a Person known to be wholly trustworthy – even when he is at the same time baffling. As ever, Isaiah put it perfectly: his thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are our ways his ways (Isaiah 55:8). Faith as such is nothing apart from a trustworthy object; prayer is nothing apart from a divine hearing ear, a loving, understanding heart, and sovereign power – in fact all the things packed into verses 7-8: the God whose power rules the world (56:7), whose knowledge embraces my wanderings (56:8a), and whose tenderness keeps a felt record of my sorrows (56:8bc). Given such a God, faith rests secure, prayer is potent, and, like David in his dire danger, we are always safe.”



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