Regarding dread, or fear of the future, the challenge can involve large or small matters.
Doubtless, we all at times envision catastrophic contingencies with a strong sense of concern.
"What would I do if this or that happened?" David references this in the 46th Psalm, wherein he considers what might happen if "the earth be removed, and cast into the sea" (vs. 2). His answer? "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear" (vs. 1-2). "Consider that the worst might happen" suggests the Psalmist. "God will not only be present. He will be very present with refuge and strength."
We rightly rejoice in such assurance concerning the possibility of major calamity. However, I grow more and more convinced that in the matter of fear, it is "the little foxes, that spoil the vines" (Song of Solomon 2:15). Failure to decisively deal with everyday insecurities and uncertainties ultimately affect us more than the major temptations to fear, of which there are relatively few. I'm tempted to offer a list of such possibilities, but there are so many in both number and nature that naming just a few wouldn't be helpful. Moreover, we each experience challenges tailored by our spiritual enemies that impact our particular personality and disposition. Perhaps as you read this, your own susceptibility to temptations of dread comes to mind. If you're like me, the accompanying thought involves the confession, "I've too often not dealt with those temptations, but rather let a little fox gnaw at the vines of my heart and mind until the experience of Christ's peace has indeed been spoiled."
If this is the case, we must act in order that the vines might be redeemed and repaired. First, we approach our Heavenly Father with a heart of contrite repentance. "Father, I have sinned in failing to trust You when challenged by this temptation to fear. I am sorry, and I believe Your promise for forgiveness and cleansing through the redeeming blood of Christ" (I John 1:9). We then remember God's assurance of enabling for the life of faith to which He calls us.
"Thank You, Father, that the Spirit of the Lord Jesus dwells in me to lead and empower me to believe Your promises. I therefore choose to trust You regarding the specific issues wherein I have been living in dread rather than faith." Our prayer concludes with the request that the Lord will bring the Truth of His abiding and overcoming presence to our hearts and minds whenever temptations to fear assail us. "Father, remind me continually that nothing comes my way that You have not foreseen in the determination to be everything I will need You to be. May the Lord Jesus thereby be glorified as I walk in Your peace."
There are some big foxes out there. However, the countless little foxes may offer far more challenge. We can trust our Lord regarding both contingencies, and indeed, we must trust Him. Our lives matter too much to our particular sphere of influence for our hearts to be distracted or even paralyzed by dread. "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee" (Psalm 56:3). David's "What time" means anytime, every time, and all the time we must act when foxes of whatever size tempt us to be afraid. May our Heavenly Father search us to discover in us vines spoiled by dread, and then may He lead us to overcome the challenges that lie ahead.
"Search me, o God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts. And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."(Psalm 139:23-24)
"Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; He will come and save you."(Isaiah 35:4.)