Hidden Fears

“In God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Psalm 56:11

John Matuszak was a 6-foot-8, 280-pound football player for the Oakland Raiders. His public image was that of a havoc-wreaking, heavy-drinking, hard-hitting player who was as much a threat off the field as on. Friends, however, knew “Tooz,” as he was called, as a 280-pound puppy dog just begging to be stroked.

According to Los Angeles Times writer Mark Heisler, John Matuszak was “beset by fears he couldn’t acknowledge.” As a young boy, he was ridiculed for his gawky, beanpole appearance. Two brothers died of cystic fibrosis. The image of the Tooz was a fortress he had created to hide in. But he got trapped there by his hidden fears. He died at age 38 of a massive heart attack. His body had been weakened by years of alcohol and drug abuse.

The story of King Saul bears some striking similarities. He too was a monster of a man, a fighter. He was also driven by fears (1 Samuel 18:29). Because he tried to cope with them in his own strength instead of turning to the Lord for help, his life came to an untimely end (31:4).

“Heavenly Father, no matter how big we may appear on the outside, sometimes we feel very small on the inside. Forgive us for putting up a false front and pretending we’re strong enough to handle life on our own. Help us to trust You more.”


From the playbook: 1 Samuel 18:28-19:12