I Won't Be Wanting

anxiety blog psalm 23 want Apr 05, 2023

Blog by Alan Fadling

The wisdom of Psalm 23 has been a frequent counselor to me, especially in times of anxious care. One expression of this psalm that I’ve loved are the lyrics of Jon Foreman’s song “House of God Forever.” The song begins…


God is my shepherd

I won't be wanting, I won't be wanting

He makes me rest

In fields of green, with quiet streams

Even though I walk

Through the valley, of death and dying

I will not fear

'Cause You are with me, You are with me


Anxiety tells me that, at some point in the near or distant future, I will be wanting. It claims that I’m not going to have something I need, that I will be deprived of something critical.


In September 2018, I read the following paragraph in Jan Johnson’s monthly email she calls “Wisbits”:


“We think we don’t have everything we need because we live in the future. What about the difficult work project this week? What about when I have to tell X about *%$!?  What about saving for retirement?  Living in the future is not the reality of the moment. I’ve learned that by the time I get to that event, I will have everything I need.”


I assume that because something isn’t solved, provided for, or fixed at the present moment, it never will be. “I shall not want” means, as Jan says, that by the time I get to whatever it is I envision as an irrecoverable disaster, something will have changed. The illustration she uses is being stuck in an airport overnight, which she calls one of her great fears. She shares that when it finally happened, she had learned to live in the moment and discovered she had what she needed in those moments.


In fall 2018, Gem and I traveled to Germany to speak to a group of Navy chaplains. We arrived a few days early to do a bit of sightseeing. One day we drove into Munich to visit the city center because it has a reputation as a beautiful place. As we were coming up out of an underground parking garage, I could see pedestrians standing in the middle of the lane at the top of the ramp. In trying to avoid them, I scraped the lower passenger side of our rented Citroen. Immediately, anxiety arose, pretending to be a prophet:


  • “You are counting on your Chase credit card rental coverage, but it’s not going to work internationally. You’ll be stuck with a massive bill.”
  • “This is going to ruin your trip because of how much time it will take to deal with this.”
  • “You won’t be able to enjoy the rest of this trip.”


These thoughts overwhelmed me and threatened to do to me exactly what they claimed. But they were all predicting the immediate future. How right were they?


  • When I reached our credit card company later that same day, they told me that our coverage was good up to the value of the vehicle. I had no reason to worry.
  • It took me about one hour to work on this to learn what I needed to know before I left Germany. The time I spent that day worrying about this little accident was more than an hour. Worry didn’t improve the situation one little bit.
  • Thankfully, I was able to make my way to peace and well-being by the end of that day, and I enjoyed the rest of the trip.


When I returned the car at the airport, I learned that there was a glitch with the rental agency that might cause us trouble with the claim. Rather than worrying about it, I decided that maybe the Lord was going to shepherd us in all this and that I still wouldn’t find myself in a situation of want. It turns out I was right here too.


I attach a lot of gloom and doom to the “what ifs” and “what abouts” that arise in my thinking. I envision, as my friend Tom shares from his experience in recovery, “a parade of imaginary horribles.” Regarding the damage, I imagined a huge bill with which I’d have no help. I imagined something hanging over me for days, weeks, even months.


But the reality is that nothing as bad as any of that ever happened. The Lord is my shepherd. The Lord is your shepherd. How good to live in this preemptive peace.


For Reflection:

  • What situation in the near or distant future threatens to be one of want? How might you remind yourself that by the time you get to that moment, the Lord will have shepherded you well to places of abundance, care, and peace?