To Fear Or Not To Fear Part 1
by pastor Andy Lauer
Each of these devotional blogs entries is meant to be read on your own or if you have family or friends you live with, to be read together aloud. A suggestion is to do this after you have dinner around the table together. At the conclusion, please spend time in personal reflection or in sharing with one another your answers to the questions at the end. Be sure to conclude with prayer.
Read Isaiah chapter 41
“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.” (Isa. 41:10, NLT)
One of the interesting things that happens after you marry and become a parent is discovering a new perspective on your own parents. I remember as a child having the usual fears that many children have, such as a robber breaking into our home. And yet as a young boy, although I may have thought about it from time to time, especially at night, I was never overwhelmed by that fear because I knew that if someone did try to break into our home, my dad would be there to protect us.
As an adult, I realize both the truth and the falsity of that. I realize that now that I’m the dad—the one who is supposed to protect the family from dangers. But the reality is, I’m just . . . me. I don’t have any special dad superpowers that make me invincible or give me the ability to overcome every danger that exists. So while it’s true that I would always assure my kids I will protect them (and I would do anything in my power to do so), I also recognize that it is false to think I can stop all danger from coming their way.
Some writers have said that the phrase “fear not” or a similar command (e.g. “be in peace”) is found at least 365 times in the Bible, one for every day of the year. I haven’t counted them all personally so I can’t say for sure whether that is 100 percent accurate, but I do know that God tells humans many times that they should “fear not”. Do not fear. Do not be afraid. The reason given, as the passage from Isaiah 41 reveals, is that God promises to be with us.
In chapter 41, the prophet Isaiah prophesies about a future time when Israel would be delievered from its enemies by king Cyrus (“one from the east”, v. 2 and “one from the north”, v. 25). Remember, Isaiah was writing during the time when Israel was under the oppressive thumb of the Assyrian empire. It was not a fun place to be. Yet, God was revealing through Isaiah about a time when those who oppressed Israel would be defeated. In other words, although they were currently in a bad situation, God would keep His promise to Israel (the promsie was always to Israel, not necessarily just one particular person), and bring them out of bondage. That might not seem like much consolation to those in captivity, but to a people whose identity was more about the nation than the idividual, it was very good news.
But there was more. Let me explain.
Although when we call God father, we might think exclusively in terms of a human father, there are many ways in which God is greater than any human father could ever be. One way that God is greater than any human father is that God is able to protect us from all harm. And often He does just that. However, that doesn’t mean He always chooses to intervene to divert bad things from coming our way. Loved ones still die in accidents, friends still get sick, financial ruin still happens.
But, we must notice what verse 10 actually says. Look at it again above. It never says that God promises to keep us (or Israel) from ever experiencing anything bad. Instead, it says that we should not fear because God will be with us. (We might recognize that phrase from Christmas time when Jesus was revealed in Matthew 1:23 as Emmanuele, which means “God with us.” ) He will strengthen us to endure. He will help us find a way through the darkness. He will uphold us with His mighty hand when we can’t hold ourselves up any longer. In the most desperate of times, even like the time we are living through now, God is right there with us, helping us get through, if we will trust in Him.
So, just as I when I was a young boy who was not afraid of anything as long as my dad was there, we can also choose to not fear during crises such as the Coronavirus, because our heavenly Father is always with us. What a blessed hope that is!
This following link is to a powerful song that reminds us of the truth expressed above. If you have a few minutes, please watch it and thank God for being our Father. Then, spend some time in prayer. Commit to not worrying or being afraid as you trust in Him. Take time to pray for our world, the Church, and those you know.
Reflect with someone else or on your own:
- What are some things you fear?
- How does knowing God is your father who is with you in the middle of it all help you overcome fear?