Monday, October 10, 2011

The Precious “Fear Not’s”

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, 
you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; 
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; 
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, 
and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD 
your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior… 
You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you”Isaiah 43:1-4

I have become passionate about the “fear not’s” in the Bible. I know it is because I used to view them as admonitions, rather than encouragements. This I is one of my favorite passages, because it’s so obvious God loves us, even when we’re fearful. I used to perceive God as being angry and distant when I was fearful and as a result experienced shame, which kept me from going to Him in the midst of fearful circumstances. It’s so obvious in this passage God encourages the fearful and faint in heart.

In this passage He does several things. First, He reminds me He has redeemed me. This means I’m adopted, accepted, beloved, and secure in Him. Second He promises me He’ll be with me in trouble and that the troubles won’t overwhelm me. Honestly there are times I feel overwhelmed. But the truth is it is because at times I forget who God is and who I am in Christ. As I read these verses it makes it clear I will experience trouble and may be tempted to believe it is a sign I have been abandoned by God, but He promises He won’t abandon me. He will be with me and if I believe that I won’t be overwhelmed. He also promises when we go through refining fires, we won’t be burned. It may be painful to be refined, but in the long run, the refining process is bringing about the abundant life.

The thing I like most about this passage is God reminds me of who He is and what He thinks of me. “The Lord your God” has a connotation of belonging and intimacy. “The Holy One” has the connotation of His pure character and the fact that He can’t lie. “Your Savior” reminds me that He loved me so much that He took my sin into His body and died on the cross to save me from God's wrath my sin deserved.

“You are precious in my eyes!” Wow, those words are so powerful that they touch my heart at the core. I used to have such a poor sense of self worth, that I found it hard to believe other people were happy to see me. I remember becoming so uncomfortable and confused when people smiled at me and seemed glad to see me. It was no different with God. I assumed that when I came to Him in prayer that I bothered Him. How wrong that perception was! This verse says I am precious in His eyes. He delights in me the same way that I delight in seeing someone I love! And to be sure I got the message, God added that I am honored in His sight, and I am loved.

God’s instruction to fear not is not a heartless command given by a demanding God. It flows out of a heart that loves us, delights in us, and truly wants us to get the most out of life. We live in a fallen world and will experience troubles and go through some difficult trials God will use to refine our character, but if we take God at His Word and believe He is with us at those times, we will develop great intimacy as we trust Him to work all things to our good and His glory. How differently we will respond to those troubles when we truly believe He is with us, loves us, and considers us precious.

Can I encourage you to reflect on what you have thought and felt about your fear? How have you viewed God’s response to your fear? Do you believe that the “fear not’s” followed by God’s reminders are encouragements rather than admonitions? What does it mean to you and your life to know that you are precious in His sight?

Prayer: Father, thank you for promising to be with us every moment of every day. Thank you for speaking hope into our lives when we are afraid. Thank you for promising to help us through everything that we face. We love you and want to honor you even in the midst of our fear. Amen.

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!