“Momma, please come. I’m scared.”

Those five words called out were a common theme when I was a girl of seven, too often breaking the silence of a sleeping household. And Momma would come, sit on the edge of my bed, and pray with me.

Perhaps it was her anxious desperation. Maybe divine intervention. More likely, it was one that led to the other, and I’m quite certain Momma didn’t only pray for me. She prayed about me.

“Heavenly Father, please help me know how to help my precious girl,” I’m sure she pleaded.

And because He’s good and faithful, He answered.

“Momma, please come. I’m scared.”

Once more, she came—only this time, Momma arrived armed with a weapon, one she handed to me, which I took. From that night forward, I wielded a sword in my battle with fear, and it made all the difference.

Those five words—Momma, please come. I’m scared—were replaced with five new words. Powerful words. Transforming words.

And I’d pray–

“The LORD is my shepherd” (Psalm 23:1a ESV*).

The weapon Momma handed me was the truth of God’s Word. “There’s power in them,” she whispered. “Just see what He will do when you hide these five words from Psalm Twenty-Three in your heart. Speak them aloud, as the shepherd David did. He, too, faced enemies—lions and bears, not to mention people who sought to take his life.”

Tenderly, Momma brushed back my hair and gazed into my worried eyes before continuing. “Dear one, God’s Word—even only a few short words—is the most powerful weapon one can wield in her battle against the enemy. Satan wants to keep you fearful, but God desires that you grow to be courageous. His Word will help you. I promise.”

I knew my momma. She didn’t promise carelessly, and my little girl heart trusted her, even if I wasn’t immediately certain what it was she was saying. I determined to give it a try.

Another suggestion she offered was more than simply a strategy of defense against Satan. It was also a formula, a source of rest. “Don’t just say, ‘The Lord is my shepherd,’ but try this tactic. Each time you recite those five words, emphasize a different one, like this—‘The Lord is my shepherd … The Lord is my shepherd … The Lord is my shepherd … The Lord is my shepherd … The Lord is my shepherd.’”

Knowing her words to be trustworthy and true, I gave it a try. And you know what? It worked. As I said this seemingly simple phrase over and over, placing emphasis on a different word each time, not only did I sense the enemy leaving the encampment of my bedroom, but I grew drowsy in the process—much like the strategy of counting sheep. Only in this scenario, the sheep and I snuggled down with our Good Shepherd, in peaceful slumber.

Throughout the forty-five years since that fearful season, I’ve still experienced times when I’ve felt afraid.

Take, for example, when I faced a barren season, having been told I was, and would always be, infertile.

Or when my husband and I heard with fear and trepidation the words of our adoption attorney, “I believe the birthmother will change her mind. Prepare yourselves.”

And how about when, only hours after this warning, our newborn daughter was indeed taken from my arms, with not even an extra moment to kiss her brow to say goodbye?

Years later, I was afraid when I heard the doctor’s words concerning my husband, “It’s fatal in nearly 50% of patients, and his case is severe.”

Even recently, I found myself fretting about a friend’s little girl whose biological father has decided he wants nothing to do with being a parent. My heart broke, and I cried out in my spirit, She needs to know the love of a daddy. But then I heard the Lord’s gracious whisper, Don’t forget, dear daughter—I’m this little one’s Father too. Indeed, I’m her Good Shepherd.

Honestly, even as I write this, I sense the enemy’s attempts to stir up fear, conjure confusion, though my intentions are earnest, my words nothing but truthful. Satan mocks in jeering tones—You’ll look weak. People will think less of you if you share with such sincerity. And as for being victorious—ha! Just think about all the ways you still battle fear. Who are you to speak about being brave? You’re a phony. A fraud.

And so I say them again, aloud—apply the tactic my dear momma taught me long ago and reminds me of still sometimes.

The Lord is my shepherd.”

“The Lord is my shepherd.”

“The Lord is my shepherd.”

“The Lord is my shepherd.”

“The Lord is my shepherd.”

Once more, these five familiar words from God’s Word wielded—my weapon against the wiles of the enemy, the sinister thief of joy and peace—I sense a resurgence of strength. Of confidence. Of courage. And my heart rests, calm once again.

We can’t know what tomorrow holds, nor can we foresee those circumstances that will threaten us and cause us to fear. What we do know, having been aptly warned, is that there’s indeed an enemy whose main objective is to stir up trouble. But what’s our Good Shepherd’s promise?

“Take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

And this is a solid truth, dear one. We know. We’ve come to trust our Abba Father, our Daddy, believing His ways are good. His words are trustworthy. His pasture, as David’s psalm goes on to say, is green and life-giving (Psalm 23:2). Furthermore, and most important, no matter what we face, we can rest as His beloved lambs knowing that—

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (Psalm 23:6)

  • What have been your biggest battles with fear? 
  • Have you clung to a particular Scripture passage, wielding the weapon of God’s Word against the enemy?
  • Is there someone in your life that has been a source of encouragement, someone who’s pointed you to truth when the enemy lurks with his lies? Perhaps write them a letter or give them a call just to thank them. Let them know what they mean to you.

Our Good Shepherd, Thank You for the weapon of Your Word, the Bible. Help us to wield it in all life’s moments—not only when we’re afraid. May it be a source of strength in our weakness, a source of joy in our despair, a source of peace in all of life’s storms. Thank You, Jesus, for being The Word and for coming to dwell in our hearts. Please lead us on paths of righteousness, for Your name’s sake. Indeed, for Your glory and the good of others. Amen.

***This was released first in the spring edition of Refresh Bible Study Magazine (a Lighthouse Bible Studies publication). For more information or to subscribe, visit Refresh.