The Unknown and the Known

I’m a fan of quality creepiness.

Over the summer, I read through Stephen King’s IT and Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, enjoying the literary styles of each author and the chilling depictions of the unknown. I also kept up with a few podcasts about mysteries, supernatural places, and folklore, further scratching the itch. When my roommate and I made time for it, we fit in an episode or two of “The X-Files.” I enjoyed following the storytellers as they led further down the rabbit hole, and I look forward to continuing reading and listening and watching.

I noticed that much of these stories depended on encounters with the unknown. The idea that there are dark forces at work in the world, forces that are able to shatter our safety and consume our calm, drives much of the fear and dread these stories can convey. In IT, fear comes in the form of a mysterious clown whose evil appears to have corrupted the town of Derry, Maine for decades. In The Haunting of Hill House, fear comes in the form of a strange house that seems to infect the sanity of those who dare enter it. In the podcasts, fear grows as clues slowly emerge about mysteries which threaten the lives of those who dig too deep. A draw of each of these, among other things, is that they bring us face to face with what we can neither understand nor control. In many instances in these stories, the best case scenario is survival; the forces are simply too great to conquer, at least to conquer alone.

In my devotional time this morning, I read through Psalm 76. The psalmist begins this psalm with the words, “In Judah God is known” (Psalm 76:1). As opposed to the unknown forces of darkness causing fear in these stories, God is feared because he is known. He warrants reverence not because of what we speculate, but because of what he has revealed. The writer continues,

But you, you are to be feared! Who can stand before you when once your anger is roused? From the heavens you uttered judgment; the earth feared and was still, when God arose to establish judgment, to save all the humble of the earth. Selah

Psalm 76:7-9

When the biblical authors describe God, they describe him in terms of unimaginable power. They speak of him not as one force among many, but as the force above all. He is the beginning and the ending, the author of all that we know, the uncreated one. No threat to his throne warrants worry. By his power, all things work together for good.

If we as Christians truly understand this, then we need never fear even the darkest depths of depravity. No creature or killer or myth or mystery can overwhelm the Lord of hosts. No force can overcome the Ancient of Days. We who fear the Lord have nothing else to fear. This week, let us walk with faith and confidence in our God of utmost glory. Let us trust him, even when we cannot see or understand his ways. And may we worship in fear and wonder this God who is greater than any foe imaginable. God is for us; who can stand against?

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