One of my favorite episodes of the Andy Griffith Show was “The Haunted House.” Opie and his friend, playing baseball in the street, hit a baseball that broke a window in the abandoned Rimshaw House. Opie and his friend went to retrieve the ball, and they thought they heard ghosts and also saw the eyes on a picture on a wall move.
They ran to the courthouse and told Andy and Barney about their experience. Then Barney began one of his infamous lectures. He said to the boys, “The only thing you have to fear is fear itself.” Andy turned to Barney and said, “Good, go check out the Rimshaw House. Barney’s countenance instantly changed. He gave excuses because he couldn’t go. Then Gomer Pyle walked in. Barney got Gomer to go with him.
They took the police car, drove in from of the Rimshaw House, entered the house together, and also heard ghosts and saw the eyes move on the picture on the wall.
They ran back to the police car, jumped in, and sped to the courthouse. Barney raced toward the water cooler, gulped down a drink of water, and he sighed. In a terrified voice, he told Andy what they experienced. Then Andy smiled and looked at Barney and said, “I thought you said the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Barney replied angrily, “Well that exactly what I’ve got – fear itself.”
Well, Barney is not the only one. It seems like fear pervades our culture. Fear of the direction of the country. Fear of inflation and the future economy. Fear of the threat of war. Fear of the rise in power of communist China. Fear of alien life visiting earth. Fear of the potential threat to Artificial Intelligence. And, of course, personal fears.
The psalmist offers a remedy to fear in Psalm 56:3-4 and 10-11a. He writes, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In GOD I will praise His Word, in GOD I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?” “In GOD (I will praise His Word), in the LORD (I will praise His Word). In GOD I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
In these verses, when seemingly all odds were stacked against the writer, King David, he now came to his senses. His faith begins to win over his fears. He wrote these verses, having reflected on his experience of fleeing from the murderous King Saul. If you are fearful, read these verses again (and again). As faith grows stronger, fear grows weaker.
David acknowledges fear as a part the human experience: “Whenever I am afraid…” Fear is inevitable. Yet, David has learned through experience, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.” When David experienced fear, he then chose faith over fear. He chose to focus on faith in GOD in the midst of his adversity. He chose NOT to focus on fear in the circumstances of his adversity.
David turned his fears over to GOD and expressed his faith in the truth of GOD’s Word: Look at the repetition: “I will praise His Word.”
· Yes, the Bible contains GOD’s promises!
· Yes, the Bible gives direction!
· Yes, reading the Bible calms one’s soul and alleviates one’s fears.
Yes, a remedy for fear exists! “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.”