“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. 11 “See, all your angry enemies lie there, confused and humiliated. Anyone who opposes you will die and come to nothing. 12 You will look in vain for those who tried to conquer you. Those who attack you will come to nothing. 13 For I hold you by your right hand— I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you. 14 Though you are a lowly worm, O Jacob, don’t be afraid, people of Israel, for I will help you. I am the Lord, your Redeemer. I am the Holy One of Israel.’
In 1933, as America faced the depths of great depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt the newly elected president addressed the nation in his first inaugural speech with these words “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!” Fear often rears its ugly head and reveals it’s self in our lives when we are at risk of losing something we care deeply about, our health, wealth, reputation, jobs, freedom, family, or friends. It reveals both our desire to protect the things in life that are important to us, as well as out tendency to turn to self-trust rather than super-naturally entrusting them to God’s care and control. Fear doesn’t just flood over us, it takes over us, crippling us emotionally, paralyzing us physically, and sapping us spiritually. We become afraid to take risks, instead of living radical lives we live reserved ones. We become afraid to share our faith and tell others about Christ’s forgiveness. Instead of extend our lives and resources to bless and benefit others, or to venture into new territory we hole up and hold back. Instead of living to help we end up living to hide. Fear makes us more vulnerable to the enemy, who tempts us to compromise biblical convictions and instead of trusting Christ take control of our own lives. The only real antidote to anxiety is to trust the Almighty, to put our trust in His power presence, protection, and provision. As Christians we are commanded not to fear regardless of our circumstances, and just as God guaranteed that His people would accomplish His purpose in the past so He does for us in the present. We will face troubles in this life, we are not promised a trouble free life rather we are promised His presence and power in the midst of the problems. As a result we should not be a people plagued by anxious hearts or worried thoughts. The mark of God’s people is not one of cowering but one of courageous confidence and trust in Christ. It’s here in Isaiah 41 that we see God’s antidote to anxiety, His first prescription for panic is:
- His Promised Presence
Verse 10 is one of the great promises of Scripture. “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Here God promises us the power of His presence, His presence that allows us to have peace in the midst of the panic. Because of their relationship with Him they could be reassured and find rest in Him. Are you resting in your relationship with Him or are you running around trying to control the chaos? We should take courage because our God is not only powerful but He is present here with us. This is a promise we should stand on, a firm foundation on which to fix our focus. We have a God who is not absent or unable to assist. Jesus promised His presence in Matthew 28:20: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” When you are tempted to worry and be filled with fear, remember His promise and proclaim it out loud, I will have no fear because my God is here! Even when disaster comes we do not have to be dismayed because He is our God the great “I Am.” To be dismayed means to look around in a state of alarm, anxiously filled with fear. If we would truly fix our eyes on Him and really see how great our God is most of our fears would melt away. Most of us have just never taken the time to ponder His power. I want to challenge you this week to grow your view of God, read Isaiah 40 and 41. Here is a small sampling from Isaiah 40:10, 23: “See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and His arm rules for Him…He reduces rulers to nothing, who makes the judges of the earth meaningless.” It’s time to stop focusing on the fear and start focusing on the Father. The One knows our weaknesses and promises to strengthen and support us. Not only will He strengthen, but He will help, and not only will He strengthen and help, but He will also uphold us. Hebrews 13:6 says: “So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” Unlike others who might “unfriend” us when we do something stupid God promises to be faithful. This idea of upholding means to undergird, to make secure underneath. We have a Father whose presence provides a firm foundation. This upholding is symbolized by God’s righteous right hand, denoting “right” action in all circumstances. This means that God’s great power will do the right thing at the right time. Even in our failure we can hold on to the truth that He upholds us even when we are barely holding on. Psalm 145:13-14: “The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made. The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.” When was the last time you paused to recall all the times that God has helped and upheld you? Why not take time right now to give Him praise for His faithful presence in your life. Because you will either spend your energy giving priority to the problems or giving praise to the Father.