Are you afraid? Why? Of what? Or of whom?

Do you feel like you’re surrounded by things to be afraid of? You’re literally not alone, AND God’s people have literally been there before!

Are you discouraged? In what way? For what reason?

Fear and discouragement wracked God’s people, and in the days of the prophet Isaiah, God comforted and assured them with these words:

“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.”—Isaiah 41:10, NLT

The context here is the reality of exile. Things seemed hopeless. No nation—hear that—NO NATION in all of human history had ever—EVER—been brought to their homeland after being exiled by a foreign power. The Israelites were in exile. And yet God promises that He will not only deliver them but also that He will be with them along the way. The focus here is not all the things that lead us to discouragement and fear—the focus here is on God and God’s ability to do what seems impossible to us.

Throughout this portion of Isaiah, there’s a clear emphasis on the difference between God and all the other idols or little gods people adopt, create, and turn to when the going gets tough. Maybe you’ve turned to—or been tempted to turn to—things or solutions, quick fixes, or personalities who are making promises to alleviate your distress, discomfort, or challenges today. God says, “Reject them all and turn to me. I am here, and I can actually rescue you.”

Other nations were living in fear and creating all kinds of idols to satiate their fear. But God says, “Don’t follow their lead. Instead, turn to me. I am right here. I am with you.” God does not say, “There’s nothing to fear.” God knows they have plenty of fears: sickness, disaster, evil, violence, betrayal, war, poverty—and they’ve been driven from their homes with whatever they could carry. They are living as strangers in a strange land. There is no social safety net, and they are hated by the people in whose midst they are trying to survive.

There’s plenty to fear, and yet God says, “Don’t be afraid. You’re not alone. I’m right here with you, and I am bigger than all those things.”

God’s righteous hand is extended. Take hold of it, rest under it, allow God to guide you in His strength.

Our God, the One who does the impossible