Today we’re sharing an excerpt from Scarlet Hiltibidal’s new study, Anxious. The Anxious Bible study book also includes access to 8 videos teaching sessions from Scarlet. Simply redeem a code printed in the back of the study book to access the videos. Order your copy or see a free sample today at lifeway.com/anxious.
In Psalm 23:1, David wrote, “The LORD is my shepherd; I have what I need.”
I have what I need. What if we really believed that?
Oftentimes when I’m anxious, my worry is rooted in feeling like I’m lacking something. My mind tells me, If I just had this … or If that circumstance would just line up the right way … THEN, I’d have what I need.
I heard an illustration from Elisabeth Elliot about Psalm 23 in which she talked about getting lost in the car and needing directions. Updating her example a little, imagine using your iPhone GPS to get somewhere, but then, while you are traveling, your phone dies, and you don’t have your charger.
Maybe you pull over and ask someone how to get to where you’re going, and he/she starts giving you a long, detailed, confusing explanation. But then imagine how you would exhale if someone were to simply drive ahead of you and lead the way. Elliot said, “… isn’t it a relief if somebody just says, ‘Follow me.’”1
There’s no doubt that an anxious mind complicates a simple thing. Sure, we’ve all got complicated, painful relationships. Sure, we’re juggling lots of responsibilities and wearing lots of hats and dealing with lots of incoming problems. And of course, you, if you were really smart, might be building a tornado shelter right now. But let’s just remember this truest of true things. We are sheep, and we have a Good Shepherd who loves us and who leads us.
Psalm 23:4 in the CSB translation uses the phrase, “darkest valley,” but I love the imagery used in the ESV translation—“valley of the shadow of death.” I used to think of that phrase as reflective of the very worst horrors life has to offer—things like disease and abuse. But, truly, this whole life is the “valley of the shadow of death,” right? We are all dying every day. Some days are filled with pleasantries, and some days are filled with pain, but we live every moment in the shadow of death.
Even though we are all walking toward death, we can “fear no evil” (v. 4, ESV). Why? Verse 6 refers to the day we will dwell in the house of the Lord.
There’s so much of David’s life we don’t have time to cover. Have you ever heard about the time he was a scrawny young boy who slayed the giant, Goliath, with a sling, some stones, and without physical armor (1 Sam. 17)? Or, you know, that time he sinned against Bathsheba and then had her husband killed (2 Sam. 11–12)? I mean … David lived a life.
He had lots of great days and lots of bad ones. Based on his life events, he likely experienced the anxiety of being the victim and the anxiety of being the bad guy. But he was a bad guy with faith in a good God. He was often a bad guy whose prayer life demonstrated that he sought forgiveness and protection, not through an earthly shield (not even when fighting a giant) but an eternal One. God protected David from his fears and from following his sin to destruction. God guarded and guided His child through all kinds of circumstances we can hardly imagine.
Here’s the thing. Because of Jesus, we have access to the Shepherd. Because of Jesus, we have access to safety and satisfaction. Because of Jesus, we are sheep who don’t need to be afraid of the lingering wolves in our lives. He leads us. He loves us. He is with us.
We are like David in that we fail, but Jesus doesn’t. We worry, but Jesus understands. Jesus knows this world is broken, sad, and scary. But when we hold up what we are anxious about next to the good news of the gospel, we see that we actually can rest because He has already handled everything on our behalf. We are His, and He has won, is winning, and will win forever. It’s not a onetime thing. It’s an everyday opportunity to sit at His feet and in His Word, to claim His promises, think on His help, and believe in His power.
What can you do this week to remember the truth—that Jesus, your Shepherd, is with you—loving you, comforting you, leading you, holding you, and protecting you?
Want to learn more about Anxious? Watch the short video below or view a free sample and teaching video clips at lifeway.com/anxious.
And here are some fun wallpapers for your desktop and phone! Click the images below to download!
1. Elisabeth Elliot, “The Lord is My Shepherd,” Series: Elisabeth Elliot Speaks About, accessed February 22, 2021, https://www.blueletterbible.org/audio_video/elliot_elisabeth/misc/Elisabeth_Elliot_Speaks_About.cfm#The_Lord_Is_My_Shepherd.