Crippling Fear — with John Henderson

Janet Aucoin May 3, 2024

Fear can often seem all-consuming and overpowering, especially in our fallen, sin-cursed world. How can Christians see fear in light of the Bible?

Today’s episode features a returning guest– renowned author Dr. John Henderson, an associate pastor at University Baptist Church in Fayetteville, AR. In addition to being a professor of Biblical Counseling at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he is a board member for the Biblical Counseling Coalition and the Association of Biblical Counselors. This week’s episode focuses on how Christians should relate to and consider fear and anxiety from a biblical perspective.

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Episode Transcript


Books/Journal Articles

Journal of Biblical Counseling

Peace Be Still - David Powilson

Real Peace - Andy Farmer

Found in Him - Elyse Fitzpatrick


Understanding Trauma Biblically - Joyful Journey Podcast

Anxiety, Fear, and the Gospel - John Henderson


CCEF Resource website

Faith Bible Seminary


Read Through the Scripture Challenge 2024


Jocelyn: I don't just need to feel better. I need the truth. And ultimately that will make me better.

Janet: I just want to make it as totally simple as possible for ladies to see that the Bible is really applicable to their everyday life.

Jocelyn: When they understand theology, the application flows out of it quickly with joy.

Janet: It is a journey, but even the journey itself is joyful when I'm doing it, holding the hand of my savior and trusting him all along the way. This is the joyful journey podcast, a podcast to inspire and equip women to passionately pursue beautiful biblical truth on their journey as women of God. When you choose truth, you're choosing joy.

Janet: Okay. Welcome back, listeners. This is Janet. I'm here with Jocelyn.

Jocelyn: Hey, friends.

Janet: And once again from a previous podcast you've already heard from Dr. John Henderson, and if you didn't get to hear the podcast on "Understanding Trauma Biblically", I highly commend that. But you can listen to that, get a little bit more about his background. But we've asked Dr. Henderson to come back and talk with us again about a very common subject that we're hearing about more and more.

Jocelyn: Yep.

Janet: That we would like to talk about hope for those with crippling fear.

Jocelyn: Yes. I would love to hear about this.

Janet: We've just noticed that more and more and we work primarily with women. I'm sure Dr. Henderson is a pastor, works with men and women. Just paralyzed by fear or anxiety. And Dr. Henderson, I would just say it seems like there's an increase in crippling kinds of fear. I don't know if that's accurate. Have you seen that? Do you have any thoughts as to why you think that might be the case?

John: Yeah, truthfully, it's hard for me to say that there's an increase in crippling fear, just since anxiety, worry, even yeah, crippling fears are so deeply addressed in scripture.

Janet: I guess they've been around a while back.

John: Yeah. They're so woven into just the experience of life as human beings, just weak, vulnerable, sinful, fallen, living in a fallen, troubled, dangerous world. I think perhaps there's more vehicles for vocalizing it. There's more vehicles for voices. Gathering together to share those stories. Kind of a globalized means even of communication that gives expression to things that have always been there to things that are going on in the present. And so I think it can give the impression there's just far more fear, far more crippling fear. But I would also add, at the same time there, there could be an increase in access to news about all kinds of distressing events. There's greater access to what's going on in this really big world that I think make human, make us feel smaller. Make us feel more vulnerable, more susceptible, death nearer than ever. And so there could be that kind of an effect.

Janet: Yeah.

John: That just exposure to awareness of danger is probably higher than it's ever been just because of access.

Janet: Yes.

John: To news and to stories and to things going on all over the world. There just would've been a time when, whatever little town village you lived in, something happened 600 miles away. You may not hear about it.

Janet: Right. And if there'd been no murder in your town, you don't think about it because you don't hear about it.

Jocelyn: Right.

John: Don't think about it. But the idea that you can turn on the television each day and just listen to stories of murders and rapes and wars and destruction and, death by drug and alcohol abuse and suicides.

Janet: Yeah.

John: Car accidents and fires and earthquakes and things that. You can, if that's what your mind is toward, and if that's what you're facing then I could see where that would be overwhelming.

Janet: Yeah.

Jocelyn: I think that maybe people are talking about it more.

Janet: Yes.

Jocelyn: Especially since Covid like the people that we're dealing with. Like it was a lot of people talking about it all at once, all over the world.

Janet: Yeah. Yeah. And I think it's more acceptable to talk about than it used to be.

Joclyn: Yeah, definitely.

Janet: Yeah.

Jocelyn: So do you differentiate between fear and anxiety? And if so, in what ways?

John: They certainly seem to be related. They certainly seem to occupy a connected semantic range of related words, but theologically, I tend to believe and see fear as something more fundamental to human life. I think fear will actually be forever. Meaning we're gonna see the Lord face-to-face and live with Him forever, and there will be a kind of fear, a kind of reverence, a kind of awe. That is the real essence of true godly fear that we will carry with us forever, not a cowering, running away, anxious fear, but a very holy kind of reverence in all for God. And so I think there's something about fear that is just really fundamental to human being and to human existence. And it can be either rightly directed or wrongly directed. And so scripture speaks of fear as a good thing in places. And fear is a bad thing depending on the object of that fear, depending on the reason for that fear. And so fears can be holy or unholy. They can be wise or foolish. They could be toward God or toward men or toward something else. So you have Matthew 10:28, and do not fear those who kill the body. But cannot kill the soul. So he's just saying that that would be a wrongly directed fear. And we might go, wait a minute, not, don't fear people who can torture me to death. Yeah, no, don't fear. He says, rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body and hell. That's a rightly oriented fear. But then says, are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your father, but even the hairs of your head are numbered, fear not therefore. You're more of more value than many sparrows. And so he is gonna say, don't fear man. All he can do is kill you. Fear God.

Jocelyn: Yes.

John: Because He can condemn you to hell forever. But if you're His child, if you've been redeemed by Christ, don't fear Him. Not like that because you're more valuable to Him than even sparrows. And so whatever the fear is that was there, it has changed just to a kind of reverence, a kind of awe.

Janet: For a believer.

John: For a believer. A kind of holy fear. But anxiety as a whole, if you read across scripture and see how words like anxiety and worry are used that anxiety tends to be an expression of distrust toward the Lord. An expression of doubt. Toward the Lord, an expression of doubt in His word and His promises. And so I tend to speak of anxiety as the experience and expression of misplaced fear. A whole person kind of experience of the wrong kind of dread. And as those who are fallen sinners redeemed by grace, with new hearts, new natures, we're growing, we're changing, but we're still in the process of learning how to fear the right things.

Jocelyn: Yes.

John: We're still in the process of placing our fear, our reverence, and our awe in the right place. And so we're all gonna be encountering all kinds of temptation to anxiety and even walking in anxiety. Isaiah 35:4 say to those who have an anxious heart, be strong, fear not. And so even there, you see there's God's counsel through His prophet. Because all those who are anxious, they're fearing something. And he's saying yet that anxiety is telling you your fear is misplaced. Well, fear not, behold your God will come with vengeance. With the recompense of God, He will come and save you. And so what were they supposed to do with that promise? Well, they were supposed to not be anxious.

Janet: Yeah.

John: They were supposed to not fear that. And the evidence that they weren't fearing it would be the lack of anxiety because they would actually be revering and being in awe of God and trusting His word such that they weren't anxious. I think words like worry and fretfulness tend to be words that identify the experience and expression of misplaced fears in our thinking. Just fretfulness and worry tends to be about thoughts, ruminations, and that tends to, whenever we're like stuck in just cycles of worry, it tends to tell me, okay, I, I have misplaced fear. And I'm trapped in just the thoughts about it. And the worry about it. Yeah. Words like agitation, tension. Sometimes stress tend to be words that identify fears, experience, and expressed in our bodies. So I think there's ways we talk about it, the bodily experience, and that's why I tend to see anxiety as more all-encompassing of body and soul. Like you can have anxieties and expression of the body, but also an expression of the soul. And it's a wonderful kind of warning light to us.

Janet: Yeah.

John: About where our hearts are focused. And that's why Matthew 6, why Jesus says, therefore, I tell you, don't be anxious about your life. What you'll eat, what you'll drink, about your body, what you'll put on. Is not life, more than food in the body, more than clothing? And so He chooses to take two of the most basic things we need for human survival, food and clothing, shelter water, and says, yeah, don't, don't even be anxious about that. And then He is gonna go on and the rest of the passage to give us like eight reasons why we shouldn't.

Janet: Yeah.

John: And one of 'em, 'cause you have a father who, who loves you and who's gonna take care of you. And He dresses lilies of the field. He feeds birds. He's that involved in life. He'll be that involved in your life and so don't be anxious about that. And of course we all read that. We all know that. And then it is a work in progress.

Janet: And then we're anxious.

Jocelyn: Totally.

John: And then we're anxious. That's right.

Jocelyn: It's true though that it's like the warning light because anytime I start feeling anxious inside of me, it's always connected to I am confident I'm gonna lose something, like something's gonna go bad. And it is definitely a window into my soul.

Janet: Right.

Jocelyn: It's definitely showing what I value and what I want, what I think I need, what I deserve.

John: And part of the encouragement, and, and this is where we, sadly, too much often approach our sanctification like it's microwavable. Like you can just hit, rather than it's, no, it's crockpot-like stuff that it, it's the Lord is patient and He is.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

John: And He is perfectly happy to take the rest of our life, to change us and grow us. And so it's interesting how we're often in more of a hurry than He is to get us where we think we ought to be.

Janet: Yeah.

John: Because He does delight in the process. He does delight in proving his faithfulness through that process. He does delight in growing us so incrementally that there's nobody that can be giving glory for it in the end by Him.

Jocelyn: See that makes me anxious knowing that it's gonna take a long time.

John: Yeah.

Janet: What does that say about your soul?

Jocelyn: I would really like it to be done.

Janet: Yeah. Don't want hard.

Jocelyn: I like to not suffer.

Janet: So thank you for causing anxiety.

John: Yeah. Yeah. There we go. Successful.

Janet: So how do you think the different causes behind fear change? If it does, how you help someone grow? Could you walk us through some examples? I would imagine listeners going, I struggle with this. Now what?

John: Yeah. I mean, I think, again, we could take a lot of hours to answer those kinds of questions, which are good questions, but because those are the key questions. Because in a way you're asking, how do we grow spiritually?

Janet: Yes.

John: And in some ways there's just anxiety and fear and where is so normative to human life that I think the gospel and normative growth in the Christian life is always gonna push against it. The something about believing and knowing that we're redeemed by the grace of God in Christ, adopted by God, filled with HIs spirit, united to Christ by faith. All those are meant to assure us that we are certainly in the process of change. And and so He will be increasingly refining our fears and increasingly putting to death those anxieties. But as He's doing that, the temperature of life is gonna keep growing in ways that we're gonna see new fears.

Janet: Yeah.

John: New anxieties, new worries. I tell people, like when I graduated from college, I put everything I owned in the back of my 1983 Ford Escort.

Jocelyn: Living large.

John: Yeah. And if it burned to the ground, I was out like 500 bucks. That was the replacement cost of my life. And so what do, there just weren't many ways to hurt me and kill me, I guess. But that's just not true anymore. Married, five kids, house, cars.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

John: Church, there's just so many ways to be touched.

Jocelyn: Yes.

John: There's so many things to lose, and so even though I'm confident the Lord has been deepening my grasp with the Gospel, deepening my confidence in Him, growing my sense of His nearness, presence, power, there's still just the tremors that come over me when things I love are threatened. When the reality of, and the longer we go in life, right? The more stuff we lose.

Jocelyn: It's reminding me some of our previous episodes when you're like, it's just shocking to me that I'm getting more and more anxious the older I'm getting.

Janet: Yes.

Jocelyn: Because we've lived through more, we have more to lose, we have more that we love, and it's just.

Janet: We've seen loss. We know it can happen.

Jocelyn: And our frailty is becoming more and more apparent to us.

Janet: Yep.

Jocelyn: It's, oh, I thought we'd be getting less anxious as we learn more about it. But no, it's just.

Janet: The battle is growing.

Jocelyn: There's more fears. Yeah.

John: You see more,, you notice more danger. You, I mean, travel, you go to play, you realize all the different things that can go wrong.

Janet: Yep.

John: When you start realizing what goes into a trip with your family and all the different stuff that can go wrong. When you're a kid.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

John: You're like, what? We just ended up here, right? We get to go on vacation, then we got home. It was often like you didn't realize what your parents went through.

Jocelyn: Yeah. Exactly

John: All the details

Jocelyn: And the older you are, the more your body starts wearing out and there's just more things to think about that could fail.

Janet: Yeah.

John: Yeah. The valley of the shadow of death gets more real. You're looking to your left and right at men and women that you've grown up with and known and they're going to be with the Lord. Or being touched by sickness and cancer and death and things that you just. Again, it's not bad, it's good because it means we're seeing more of reality and more of the world as it is. But then that always confronts us with a new set of anxieties that we have to cast upon the Lord, as Peter would say.

Jocelyn: And our ultimate powerlessness that was a good point to be reminded of we are powerless and it's good for us to be aware of that.

Janet: Yeah, I think when you just said that God delights in the small incremental change, I don't know, I've never, I've known that that's how it works, and so I know that that's what I need to expect and that I need to be faithful, but all of that is like duty. But to think when I am working to be faithful, when the anxieties come and just growing incrementally when the next one comes, that that delights Him. It's okay that I'm seeing more about my heart, and that as things get harder, something else comes up that I didn't know was there. That doesn't have to lead me to despair. It delights the Lord for me to meet Him there with that.

John: And it's one of the primary things He's dealing with His disciples and with the people around Him and the Gospels. When you just read the Gospels, how often is the thing He's addressing about fear? Or anxiety or worry?

Janet: Yes.

John: So even He's gonna say to Martha, Martha, you're worried and bothered by many things, but only one thing's necessary, and your sister has chosen the good part and that won't be taken from her. Now, He's very endearing in how He says it.

Janet: He loves her.

John: He's very kind. He loves her. I mean, how often is He coming back to issues of anxiety and fear with Peter? Like even as He is preparing the disciples for His death on the eve of the cross, and He's saying, you're all gonna fall away and Peter's gonna go not me. He's, yeah, I've seen these other guys, Lord, I bet they will. Just puts his hand around Jesus, like You and me, man.

Jocelyn: You and me, man.

John: No I'm ready to go with you to the grave. And he just says, Simon, Simon, Satan has asked for you and what He means, all of you, the you is plural. And Jesus doesn't say, but I won't let him have you. He goes, but I'll pray for you.

Jocelyn: Oh, wow. Yeah.

Janet: Wow.

John: And after you come back, well, from what? From that sifting.

Jocelyn: Wow.

John: He's asked for you that he may sift you as wheat, but I'll pray for you. And after you come back from that sifting, strengthen your brothers.

Jocelyn: Wow.

John: In other words, He's not of much use to Jesus like this. This proud braggadocious, I've got it, you and me. But you go spend some time with Satan and he'll sift you, and when you come back, you'll be humbled and then you'll be ready to strengthen other people. And so sure enough, Jesus is gonna get arrested, taken to the high priest's house, Peter's gonna wander in there, and the strength of his resolve will be exposed by a slave girl. And I think the Bible's way of saying the most powerless human being on the planet. Like a child, a girl, a slave, and she's gonna be like, hey, you're one of His buddies, right? One of His disciples. He's no, don't know Him. Three times he's gonna deny he even knows Him. Out of fear, out of anxiety. And yet after He's raised, He's gonna meet Peter beside the sea, and He's not gonna say, you know what? I know I put a lot of time into you, but I'm done with you. Forget it. He's instead gonna ask him three times, do you love me? And on that third time it's gonna grieve Peter. I don't think, just 'cause it's repeated, but that, that third time means it's gonna call his mind back to, oh, well Lord, all things. And instead Jesus is going to say, well, when you're younger you used to gird yourself and go where you wish. Not anymore. You're gonna be bound and taken where you don't wish to go. Now come follow me. Peter's gonna look back, see John and go, what about him? Peter, if it's my will that he remain until I come, what's that to you? Meaning, if he's going to retire at a country club and teach people bridge and minister the Gospel to them and then die in old age, and what's that to you? Like you follow me. And he is gonna follow Him and you're gonna see in the book of Acts, you're just gonna see Peter's a different man.

Jocelyn: Yes.

John: And even is it Acts 4 where he is dragged before the council again and they're gonna threaten him and they're gonna, he's gonna preach, maybe it's earlier than four. And it says, and when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, that these were uneducated, untrained men and they hadn't gone to seminary with 'em. And it says, and then they realize, oh, they've been with Jesus. And just that statement. Oh, now we know they've been, they've been hanging out with Christ. That's why they're like this. And even to answer your question that you asked a couple hours ago by now, whatever it was about how just the road there, I mean, it's following Him. It's hanging close to Him. It's opening the Word and laying your heart before it and beholding His glory, and just submitting yourself to all the different means that God uses to sanctify us. And as you do, like you may or may not notice, but people around you will. They'll see boldness where they didn't see it before. They'll see strength and courage where they didn't see it before, but it'll be.

Janet: And it'll be little by little.

John: It'll be little by little. But then people go, oh, you've been hanging out with Jesus, haven't you? That's what, that's how this happened.

Janet: Wow.

Jocelyn: And that really makes me like, think carefully about how I serve people, if I'm to be an image bearer of Christ, reflecting His values. Am I that patient with people as they're changing, especially fearful people? Because for me, that's, I am like, okay, let's deal with it and move on, not let's revisit this over and over and over. So it's really humbling to think about am I that patient as people are growing?

John: Because in years later, I mean, the Apostle Paul's gonna have to address it with Peter at Antioch. He talked about it when Peter came up, was hanging out with all the Gentiles, having a great time and going around eating meals. And then the Jews came from, this is him talking, I think in Galatians 2 then the Jews came from Jerusalem and Peter feared them. So he slowly withdrew from from all the Gentiles, and Paul saw it and said, and even Barnabas was let astray by that hypocrisy, he called it. And so he said, so he confronted him to his face publicly. And so Paul's you know what? I don't care about your fears. We're gonna, we're gonna' just gonna have a public conversation.

Janet: Just like Jocelyn would've said.

John: I don't care about your fears.

Jocelyn: It's true.

John: But it shows the decades

Jocelyn: Yes.

John: And you don't get any sense that Peter bowed up, rejected, he accepted.

Janet: Yeah.

John: We all need that kind of help.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

Janet: Yes.

John: We all need friends who point out, oh, there it is. That's not fair.

Janet: In the process, God still used Peter.

John: Yeah.

Janet: He was using him up to that point all the time, so the fact that he still had areas to work on didn't mean God wasn't gonna use him.

Jocelyn: Yeah. So are there any particular passages of scripture that you find helpful in ministering to someone who is paralyzed by fear?

John: So, I'll get to maybe some specifics, but here's what I think is important to say. I think any passage of scripture that reveals the grandeur of God. The grace of God. The glory of God is a passage that moves the human heart toward holy fear. And away from unholy fear that if we're in Christ, then this fear isn't gonna be crippling. It's gonna be a strengthening, a liberating. There is a fear that liberates, a fear that, and it's that kind of awe and reverence for the Lord. And when, if He's our father, if He's our Redeemer, if He's the one who you know loves us, then it's not crippling. It's freeing. But also any passage of Scripture that that lowers the grandeur and standing and power of man to the right proportion can also move hearts. By the work of the Holy Spirit and a human heart away from the fear of man. And so any passages that exalt God and lower man by God's grace is gonna be about anxiety and about fear. I think any passage scripture that highlights the love of God, the care of God, the faithfulness of God, the presence of God is gonna feed a believing heart with courage, with fortitude with the kind of nourishment that produces, again, a holy fear and a genuine peace and a genuine rest. I think any passage of scripture that highlights the futility of human schemes, the emptiness of worldly riches, the fleetingness of earthly treasures because how many of our anxieties and worries about things that are passing away.

Jocelyn: Yeah, totally. Absolutely.

Janet: Yeah.

John: And how many of it is about fears toward people who are passing away? And so anything that highlights the futility of human powers and human riches and human treasures, and this world that is passing away is something that the spirit can use to free us from anxiety and worry about all those things. Like you, you look upon the pages of scripture, even just take the book of Daniel as an example, 70 years in captivity. All these kingdoms that are come, go, all these kings and Daniel's still there. And that's the fact that the Lord's prophet is just still there is a picture, a symbol, of how God is still there. But even when Daniel's gone, God's still there. And think about how much worry we expend in a single four-year election cycle.

Janet: Yes.

John: In a single like little window of our life in whatever country we might get be. And that doesn't mean there isn't, again, there's people listening to this that may live in countries where there's wars and great loss and death and pain, and for any of us that could be the reality tomorrow. And yet there's something about scripture that adds that perspective that God is operating on such a big scale. And is moving even all those pieces around. And so as like to say the whole Bible is for the whole of life. And the whole of the Bible is for the feeding of faith, which over time with the help of the spirit, is gonna move us from anxiety to peace, from spiritual insecurity to greater security, from worriedness to a more settled kind of hope. But yet with that, there's lots of specific passages. Psalm 23:3 of course comes to mind. Matthew 6:25, 1 Peter 5, and Philippians 4. And so Psalms 3, 4, 5.

Janet: There’s hundreds.

John: But yeah, so there's many, many, many.

Janet: So do you think we could work through one of those passages together?

John: Yeah, and, and maybe even the first I mentioned Psalm 23:3. I think it's, it's one that I imagine most people listening are probably familiar with in some way, but I find it to be one of the most widely known and least believed.

Jocelyn: Yeah, that's true.

John: Passages of scripture and just begins with that segment. The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. And just right outta the gate, this statement about Yahweh being the focus and the fact that He is my shepherd. And what does that mean? That He cares for me. He provides for me, He protect, like it's a very personal Psalm, you know this. And so it's not gonna give a bunch of platitudes or just ambiguous kind of statements or, but a very personal statement about who is the Lord to you. And so even in any conversation as I'm helping someone with anxiety, it's okay, who is the Lord to you? Is He your shepherd? And if you're sitting talking to Christians, you go, well, yes. And, but then you have to something go, okay. Soak that in a minute. What does that mean to you? I shall not want. Well, there's the evidence that we really believe. He's our shepherd is as we say, I don't lack anything. If I need it, He will provide it. If He doesn't provide it, then I must not have needed it. Because if I needed it, He would've provided it. And it just frees us to live life for His glory. Live life, loving God, loving others because we know if there's, if I need it, He'll give it. And doesn't mean you can't pray for it, it just mean if His answer's no, we can still say, I lack nothing. I shall not want. He makes me lay down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. In other words, He knows how to provide pleasant, encouraging, restful circumstances, and sometimes He has to make us do it. I don't know if you're one of those that He has to make lie down.

Jocelyn: Never.

John: Yeah, my wife would look at me and go, yeah, that's you. You have to make you lie down in green pastures. He leads us beside still waters. He restores my soul. Just He's the one who refreshes, I think, not just in a daily life sense, but in a saving sense, in a salvation sense, that He's the one who's ultimately gonna lead in paths of righteousness. Well, why? Well, 'cause He is that path of righteousness. He is that provision of righteousness. And so the shepherd knows how to give us what we most need. And that's where a Psalm like this also re-frames our perspective in that way. Because a lot of what we're anxious about is about things we don't need or things that we may need to survive and live, but eventually we're not gonna survive and live, and we're gonna go to be with them anyway. But what we really need is righteousness.

Janet: Yes.

John: What we really need is restoration, reconciliation to God. So even at Psalms like these, that they don't just sort of answer our temporary questions and worries, they just raise our sights to what really matters. Here's what everlasting life is really about. And so the shepherd, He'll provide the green pastures, the still waters, but He'll especially restore you and lead you in a path of righteousness and all of it for His namesake. And I'd love that because I'd much rather this whole thing being based on His glory than mine.

Janet: Yes.

John: Because this is guaranteed, it's for his name. The idea that He's gonna lead us in paths of righteousness and His name is at stake.

Jocelyn: That's cool.

John: And how often did Moses appeal to that in God?

Jocelyn: Yeah.

John: Like when God says I'm gonna wipe this people out, Moses, start over with you. And I was like, well, the Egyptians will hear it.

Janet: Yeah.

John: And they'll think you had the power to get 'em out. You didn't have the power to get 'em in. And it isn't that God wasn't already planning on relenting, it's the whole conversation is to draw out that very thing, and that appeal to God's name, to God's glory is absolutely what God wants appealed to.

Janet: Yeah.

John: And so how comforting is to know that our salvation, that our righteousness, that our provision, our care, that He puts His name on it. And so His name is at stake.

Janet: Yeah.

Jocelyn: That's really cool.

Janet: Yes.

John: He's gonna do it.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

John: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. And so you see the contrast lying down in green pastures, leading beside still waters. Well, sometimes He leads us through the valley of the shadow of death to the darkest place on earth. To the place where death is really imminent, where we don't see a way out where it seems barren like a wasteland. And even there, He says, I will fear no evil. Well, what can happen to Him? Well, everything He can be consumed, destroyed, harmed, beaten, robbed. But He says, I don't fear any of that. Well, why not for you're with me and that that is the comfort of all comforts that scripture so often gives. Isaiah 41:10, where God says, don't fear I'm with you. Don't actually say, look about you. I'm your God. I'll strengthen you. I'll help you. Surely I'll uphold you with my righteous right hand. That that's how God speaks through His word to us to give comfort. And so we have to learn to be comforted by that. And so I would say a lot of counseling conversation is learning to be comforted by He's with you. And most of us just blow past that.

Jocelyn: Yeah, and that's not what we want. We want Him to take it away with that will comfort us.

John: Yeah. Yeah. Take away this pain. Give me this pleasure. And that's some of what Psalm 23 is trying to turn upside down and say that that's actually not ultimate comfort. Even that's vulnerable.

Janet: You could lose it.

John: You could lose it. If that's what our comfort is and how many of us try to live for those kinds of comforts. We go through the day actually, we're just, okay, if I could just get home and at night and then this, and then okay then get to, and we're always looking forward to in three months vacation. Then next year. Okay.

Jocelyn: Yeah, totally.

John: In 20 years retirement and it's always.

Jocelyn: It's never enough.

John: It's never enough. It's always, because comfort is always geographically determined and bound by some time and space. Whereas here, God's saying no, I want to give you a better comfort. A more abiding, lasting comfort. That's the, that I'm with you. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Just the rod and staff of the shepherd symbolizes the presence of the shepherd and the word of the shepherd, the protection of the shepherd, the provision of the shepherd. And so it's David saying, yeah, anything that tells me you're around is a comfort to me. Anything that reminds me of your care and your provision is a comfort to me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. Sometimes He does that. Or He brings us in to, and David knew this quite personally, like he ate with Saul. He ate looking at a guy who glared at him with an evil eye and who had power, was in charge, and loved to throw spears.

Jocelyn: Flung his spear at him.

John: That's right. Just, and yeah, would just go and demons would torment him and he'd throw spears at people and God says, yeah, you sit right there and here's your bowl of soup.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

John: And now eat and like you imagine eating a meal like up.

Jocelyn: And now eat and like you imagine eating a meal like up.

Janet: No, I can't.

John: Right, right. And just.

Jocelyn: And throw up.

John: And so it, but yet in the same sentence you say, you and not my head with oil, my cup overflows. And so just that juxtaposition of realities of life that in the presence of an enemy near death and I'm blessed. And my cup overflows. Why? Because the Lord's with him and he knows nobody throws spears without permission. Nobody gets killed without permission. Nothing unfolds at this table without the Lord's decree. And so it leads him to conclude, surely , I mean confidently, most certainly, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. That's 'cause there's something about anxiety that it's just enemies. It's like nameless, faceless enemies haunting us. Like just trouble looming. Any minute, somebody's gonna take this or I'm gonna lose this. And just that he would conclude, no, goodness is what's following me. Mercy is what's following me.

Jocelyn: That's really beautiful.

John: And it's gonna be all the days of my life. And if that isn't long enough, and I shall dwell on the house of the Lord forever. So again, it even plants our vision ultimately looking forward to eternity, to resurrection, to eternity in the presence of God. And so we went through that fast, but I mean I think you could slow down there and go phrase by phrase, word by word.

Janet: And even that was slower than I typically read it. And as you were reading it, I was thinking, I feel like I've been vaccinated against the power of it 'cause I hear it so much. As a Psalm I know well, I have memorized, but there's power in God's word and I have stripped it of that frequently.

John: Yeah. That it's always a danger we'll have is the inoculation of Scripture just to, we just get enough of it to sort of ward off a few things, but not enough to really deeply transform and change us. And yeah, I love that's what you said about just the vaccinated almost, that there's a way we can be inoculated with it, but not really catch the full disease.

Jocelyn: So do you have any resources you recommend for those who are battling fear or those seeking to love someone who's caught up in fear?

John: I mean, certainly we have to start with the word of God.

Janet: Yes.

John: Just, I would hope and pray that anyone listening would really in faith make a point of daily opening the Word of God in a personal, humble, heartfelt way and read it. In a personal, this is God speaking to you personally way, and that there would be a response of prayer and crying out and petitioning God and praising God and thanking God, and just that the Word would be part of that communion with the Lord. That is a real resource of change. I would say too, I think a resource is the local church. I hope that everyone listening has a group of followers of Jesus Christ that they can gather with to be encouraged by and to encouraged to be served by and to serve. Because this is not a journey we do alone. I mean, yes, if you watch any of the Discovery Channel on lions hunting wildebeest, the one out on the themselves don't.

Janet: Toast.

John: They don't do well. No matter how big it is, like it, 'cause there can be thought, okay, I'm a big, strong strapping wildebeest. I'll be fine out here. Okay, well you've never met a lion.

Jocelyn: Just a better meal.

John: Yeah. You've never met a lion. If that's what you think. And that's how Satan's portrayed. A roaring lion seeking someone to devour. And so there is huddling in the family of God and, and traveling together with others. That is, I think a real resource. In terms of just extra biblical writings that just feed scripture to our hearts around these kinds of truths about anxiety. I think there might be too many to mention, but a few. So the Journal of Biblical Counseling that you can either subscribe to or go back and purchase their whole archive of 40 years, 50 years of articles now. And there's so many in that journal that address peace and anxiety and fear. And so Peace Be Still by David Powlison is one.

Janet: Yes. And I believe the article Psalm 31.

Jocelyn: Yeah. Is that the article that we read for your class?

John: It is.

Jocelyn: Yeah. We loved that article.

Janet: And I believe that's one that Brent told me is free.

John: Okay. Where you can go online to the CCF website.

Jocelyn: I really loved the article.

Janet: Because some of them are free and I believe that one might be. That's an amazing one. We will definitely link it.

John: Yeah. You can go to the CCF website and just to the search line.

Janet: Yep.

John: And just put an anxiety and they'll actually come up with the whole sometimes page of podcasts, of conference talks of articles that have been written of those kind of things. So that's a.

Janet: Yeah.

John: It's a good, a good resource. Real Peace. A book written by Andy Farmer. Can be helpful there. Found in Him by Elise Fitzpatrick, I think very much gets it again, the foundation of

Janet: Yeah.

John: Where anxiety is put to death and where peace is fed. I taught a three-hour training at Delray Baptist Church back in 2015. That's available online for free, like from, I think their website, it's called, "Anxiety, Fear, and the Gospel".

Jocelyn: Oh, cool. That'll be a great resource.

John: It flushes out some of these ideas we've talked about.

Jocelyn: Awesome.

Janet: Excellent.

Jocelyn: What a great conversation. I'm so excited that we get to talk to you more and to learn from you more. It's been great.

Janet: Yes. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us.

John: Yeah, thank you.

To keep from missing any future episodes, please sign up for our newsletter on our webpage From there you can also subscribe to this podcast on Apple, Google, or Spotify. You can also visit us on our Facebook page or Instagram at Joyful Journey Podcast. If you have questions or comments for us, you can email us at Joyful Journey Podcast is a ministry of Faith Bible Seminary. All proceeds go to offset costs of this podcast and toward scholarships for women to receive their MABC through Faith Bible Seminary.

Host Janet and her husband, Brent, also speak at a variety of conferences as a way to raise money for the seminary. If you want to look at what they offer or book them for a conference, go to their website.

Janet Aucoin


Janet is the Director of Women's Ministry at Faith Church (Lafayette, IN); Host of the Joyful Journey Podcast (helping women learn that when you choose truth you choose joy); ACBC certified; teacher in Faith Community Institute; Coordinator of FBS seminary wives fellowship, retreat and conference speaker; B.S. Human Resources, University of South Florida.