Fear and Abundance: A Personal Reflection (Psalm 34:9-11)
Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! 10 The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. 11 Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. —Psalm 34:9-11
This reflection started at 4:00 a.m., with the ER bracelets still around my wrist.
Sometimes God gives us a practicum for his word, an opportunity not just to talk about it but to experientially walk through it.
Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!
Driving away from the park, where my family was gathered with cousins, grandparents, uncle and aunts, where we hoped to picnic and snap a family photo, I knew things were not okay. I thought about this verse. This was not what I would choose. Not what seemed good. Not the abundant gift I would have picked. So how was it that the fear of the LORD was granting me “no lack” just then?
An anchor far stronger than my own emotions or present experience.
Fearing God meant that I would take his sovereign, wise, kind gift and trust that this painful moment was not condemnation nor wrath. No, for I belong to him. I am one of “his saints.” A specially chosen one, and not because of what I have done or offered. I have been chosen because of the perfect sacrifice he himself sent.
If I had no fear of God, I would judge him and find him wanting. I would determine that he was dealing badly with me. I would add to my pain deep layers of bitterness, anxiety, hopelessness, and, ultimately, destruction.
To have a solace, a home in God himself, this is abundance in the midst of crisis.
The young lions suffer want and hunger.
Here the writer David offers us a word picture, a metaphor. Let’s examine the lot of a top predator. Is physical strength and power the key to abundance? Is life at the top of the food chain the escape hatch for life’s troubles? No indeed. Even youth, vigor, and strength fail to deliver true abundance.
But those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
A great contrast. Seeking the LORD, not running from him or cowering beneath him or shaking my fist at him, gave true comfort last night along with many good things.
Trying to grapple with my heart to see God’s hand in this, I remembered, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). I was freed from needing to understand how this was good. I could trust the wisdom and purpose of God.
As I waited for a triage nurse to advise me to go to the emergency room, my mind ran to “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1). This disturbing reality—all the unknowns—I would not walk through alone. A kind and personal shepherd held and guided me.
My parents and sisters, tenderly caring for our boys, putting them to bed while my husband drove me to the hospital and held my hand and prayed, were a picture of 1 Thessalonians 4:9, “Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another.”
And there on the emergency room gurney, in the pain, blood, and loss, a whole network of prayer and care upheld me and made me weep, as God’s family loved us through the grief of a miscarriage. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7). Perhaps it is at these moments of deepest pain that the true abundance of seeking, fearing, and belonging to God shines the brightest.
Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
This poignant invitation is a fitting prayer. Come, my little ones given me by God; come, next generation who is learning how to navigate life, listen and learn where true abundance is found. May you too find everlasting joy and abundance of life as you walk in the fear of the LORD.
How would you define “the fear of the LORD”? In what ways does it cause us to humble ourselves before God? In what ways does it draw us toward God?
Have you seen or experienced abundance in the Lord in the midst of difficulty, suffering, or loss? What were some aspects of grace that were uniquely present?