“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteousness right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
Fear is a universal experience. All people face fear of some kind. Fear can show up as worry or anxiety, but it still has the same basic root. It is a powerful emotion that can impact our lives negatively. The command that appears most often in the Bible is, “fear not!” Fear is, without a doubt, a big problem. It can paralyze our lives and lead to unwise decisions and actions. We don’t like fear, but without God in our lives we actually have reason to fear. But with the Lord, the raging storm of fears can be calmed. This is what the promise of Isaiah 41:10 is all about.
The context of Isaiah 41 is a prophetic oracle given through Isaiah to Israelites who would live future to him in the exile or the early return back to the land. They had many fears in their uncertain lives. The Lord was encouraging them with this promise. We have to ask ourselves how this promise applies to us today? As believers in Jesus Christ, we are the people of God. And like God’s people of old, we face many uncertainties and circumstances, real or imanigined, that can cause fear in our lives. The Lord has a word, a promise, to comfort us.
In our promise the Lord makes five statements to calm our fears, two are the present reality of, “I am,” and three are the future reality of, “I will.” These statements reveal God’s character and actions on our behalf. The first statement is, “I am with you.” God promises his presence. He is always with us, but it is especially meaningful when we face circumstances that can cause fear. God is with us in Christ. God comes near through Jesus. He is Immanuel, God with us. Even as David says in that much loved psalm, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” We know and can trust the promise of God’s presence because of the cross. Jesus came and died for our sins to redeem us and bring us near to God. Jesus is a breath away, a prayer away. We can rest in his presence.
The second statement the Lord makes is, “I am your God.” This is a reminder of the personal relationship we have with him. The Lord is our God. He belongs to us and we belong to him. Because the Lord is our God he will care for us. We have no real cause for fear. Intimacy brings trust. The personal relationship we have with God builds the trust to calm our fears. Intimacy means growing vulnerability and transparency that deepens trust. The Lord is our God because of the grace he has given us through Jesus. We are not our own. Jesus has purchased us by his blood.
The last three statements are about what the Lord will do for us in the future because he is in the present with us and is our God. “I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Take a few moments to reflect on what each of these three “I will” statements means in your life.
The first promise is that the Lord will strengthen us. We need strength when we are weak, which is pretty much all the time. Weakness can crash against our lives at every turn. There are so many ways we may feel weak. Most of us like to put up the front that we are strong and have it all together. But if we’re honest, we’ll have to admit that we are often weak and need God’s strength. The good news is that he provides it to us for the asking.
When the apostle Paul was struggling with his thorn in the flesh, he cried out to God. The answer came back, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul’s response was,”Therefore I will boast al the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” God’s grace is seen and his glory is revealed when, in weakness we turn to him for strength.
The next future promise of “I will” is the promise that God will help us. We need help because we face needs in our lives that we can’t meet ourselves. When that happens we feel helpless. The beauty of this promise is that God offers us just the help we need. Why do we continue to struggle with a need we can’t meet when God promises his timely and powerful help? He is able to meet all our needs. The real issue can often be trust. We can claim the promise of God, but can we trust the God of the promise?
The final future promise is the promise that God will uphold with his righteous right hand. When we’re about to fall we need someone to hold us up. The Lord promises to do just that. It is interesting that he promises to hold us up with his righteous right hand rather than his powerful right hand. The idea of power is there with the picture of the right hand. But the righteousness of God is emphasized because he is righteous to help his children whom he has redeemed. He redeems us through the blood of our Savior Jesus Christ. If we struggle with temptation, God promises to hold us up with his righteous right hand. He does not desire that we fall, but stand firm for him. We must claim the promise.
This awesome promise of Isaiah 41:10 is available to us. I encourage you to use it. Meditate on its meaning. Think of the ways fear can grip your heart. What is it that is actually causing you fear right now? What are you worried about or anxious about? The Lord your God is with you. If you are a believer in Jeus Christ, he is your God. He loves you. You have a personal relationship with him. His righteous right hand will calm all your fears.