I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13
We watched a wonderful video in bible study last Wednesday that referenced this verse. Actually, she didn’t mention this verse specifically, but mentioned this particular command from God. According to Beth Moore, the command that God gives His people most often in scripture is “Do Not Fear.” Not ‘love one another” or “do not sin” or “feed the hungry”…although He certainly says those things a great deal as well. If she is correct, God tells His people “do not be afraid” more than any other command, request, suggestion in scripture.
That has stuck with me since I heard it and I have brought it up in every small group or bible study in which I have participated since then, including today. This bit of bible trivia seems significant to me and I find that I am not quite through wondering about it…which usually means God is not quite through teaching me something about it yet!
After the video last week, I originally thought that it didn’t really apply to me that much. I’m not really a worrier. I am generally too much of Pollyanna, “rose-colored” glasses type to spend much time looking on the scarier side of things. In fact, I could probably stand to worry a bit more about some things. It will all be Ok, right? Glass half full, count your blessings, etc. etc.
However, Thursday of last week (the day after I heard this new info,) my heart felt particularly heavy. There were so many prayer requests from our bible study that week, my mom has been sick for months and noone knows why, my children were acting like teenagers in some of those annoying stereotypical ways, my sister’s dog had died, and the news on the morning talk shows was dismal. So many health challenges…what if one of us gets cancer? So many frightening influences on my girls…what if one of them does drugs, gets pregnant or turns their back on the Lord? Our country is facing so many obstacles and there seems to be no end in sight…what if Steve loses his job or we are entering another depression? What if I haven’t done all I can as a parent? What if Steve’s plane goes down on a business trip? What if someone else I love gets sick…or even one of my girls? What if we lose all our money and I have to quit coloring my hair and getting my nails done? (Just kidding about the last one…really…I will NEVER quit coloring my hair! 🙂
Some days, the world seems a long way away from realizing the Kingdom of God. Some days, the world seems fraught with danger for people I love. Some days, I am overwhelmed by weltschmerz. What do we do on those kind of days? Where do we turn when our best efforts seem laughable in the face of the enormity of the sadness and pain in our world?
It seems that scripture has an answer. In the many verses where God tells us “do not be afraid” or “do not fear,” He doesn’t just leave us hanging. The verse always goes on to say something like “I will be with you” or “I will help you” or “I will never leave you.” Here is one of my favorites from Joshua:
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Several years ago, I found a lump in one of my breasts. The doctors were concerned enough to do a biopsy on the tissue. They told me it would take two days to get the results. As two days passed and we still had no results, I laid awake at night wondering what would happen if I was sick. What if I had cancer? My girls were tiny at the time and I was terrified that I might be really ill. What if they had to grow up without a mother? Who would teach them “girl stuff?” Who would help them when they got their periods and broke up with their first boyfriend and….oh my gosh….who would do their hair? (We already had evidence by then that their Daddy was NOT very good at the hair job! 🙂 I was paralyzed with fear and prayed for God to assure me that I would be there to raise my girls. As I poured my heart out to God…and as two days stretched out to a full week…God did give me an answer, although not the one I thought I wanted. What I heard from God was this; whether or not I had cancer…whether or not I was sick…whether or not I lived to see my girls grown or had to say goodbye to them while they were still little…no matter what, we would be OK and He would never leave any of us. What I heard, for those of you who saw the video was “If ______, then GOD.” Even in the face of my worst fear, I heard God say “Do not be afraid, I will never ever leave you or the girls or Steve…no matter what.” I think He might have even reassured me that Steve could learn to do their hair…or maybe that Jenn would just always live next door. :-)After that night of wrestling with God, I received a peace that passes all understanding, in spite of the fact that I still didn’t have the answer I wanted to my question. The next day, they called with the results that the biopsy was negative and I was just fine.
So when my welschmertz day occurred last week (you will have to go read that old post to learn the definition of that word) I remembered what God said. I gathered with a bunch of my girlfriends and we prayed together. We prayed for our kids, our husbands, our parents and our country. We prayed for ourselves and remembered that we were not alone, no matter what. God was still in charge and we could lay our concerns at His feet.
If _____, then GOD. Do not be afraid.