This passage is for everyone who has ever experienced fear or worry: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10, NKJV) Isaiah 41 warns about impending judgment, and warns against worshipping useless idols. (Interesting how often those two things intersect in Scripture…)
God consistently warns against worshipping idols, and calls us to leave them to follow Him. So, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that if you live in fear and worry, you are an idol worshipper, and here’s why: Everyone has experienced the insecurity of walking into the cafeteria on the first day of middle school; but the fact is that most of us get over adolescent fear and become pretty self-sufficient. We are taught from early on that we need to work to provide for ourselves, and we live our daily lives under the assumption that we control the outcome by what we do. Indeed, the Bible encourages us to work hard, to honor God with our effort, and to be good stewards of our time and resources.
But be aware that self-sufficiency has a dark side. It gives us the feeling of control (probably like Eve felt for a moment as she took a bite of the apple), and it provides a brief illusion that we have power. At some deep level, when we think we are in control. we feel like God. It’s inevitable, though, that in spite of our best efforts, there are times when life reminds us that we are not in control, and that perhaps our strength is not enough. These kinds of times can cause us to be discouraged and cynical.
If I know anything about life, I know that every one of us will experience something difficult and heart-wrenching. In some season of life you will encounter a time when events are more than you can bear, and you are assaulted by fear and insecurity. At some point you will lose your confidence in the way you assumed things were supposed to happen, in circumstances, perhaps even in yourself. This is a natural response when disaster or tragedy enters our lives and turns our world upside down.
So, how do people deal with insecurity? You’ve heard the old saying that came out of World War II, “There are no atheists in a foxhole”. Even people who ignore God on a daily basis will seek Him when they face uncertainty or danger. Isaiah’s claim about God has been meaningful to millions of people in the midst of their pain, suffering, or affliction. It makes sense to turn to God when life is overwhelming.
But consider this: Isaiah 41:10 was not meant to be rolled out only when life is tough, or when misfortune strikes. It also works pretty well in the hum-drum activities that happen everyday… Think about how often you actually experience anxiety, all of those little times when you assume control, or worry about something that hasn’t happened… This verse is for THOSE times. Anxiety and worry are little idols, and it’s scary to think of how often we worship them instead of God.
When we assume control or when we worry, what we are really saying is that God is not sufficient to meet our needs. Jesus spoke of worry in Matthew 6:26-27, 33: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Isaiah is saying the same thing: when you are fearful, when you doubt, when you are dismayed, God offers you his strength and his help. That assistance is available not just when tragedy strikes, but every day when we experience doubt, anxiety or worry. You are not in control, but fear not! The God of the universe offers you his strength, and here’s what His Word tells us to do: “Cast all your cares upon him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7). Stop worrying. Start casting.
Fear thou not, for I am with thee, just as I have gone before
With Moses and with Gideon, and with David, and with countless more.
I understand your desperate need to handle things, to take control:
But follow me, and I will give you peace within your anxious soul.
Fear not! And be not anxious for the many things you have to do,
But cast your cares on me, because I deeply care for you…
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