There’s a lot to be afraid of in life. I’m sure if you tried, you could make an exhaustive list of all the possibilities without too much effort. There is so much that we face on a daily basis that we could be afraid of if we choose. I’m sorry to say many times I choose fear when it comes to certain situations, especially like talking to people I don’t know. And maybe this is just me, but once I give in to fear, discouragement follows soon after–because I know better. I know that fear is a choice. I know that fear is not from God, but there are times when I choose it anyway.
The Bible amazes me because so often it has already made connections between emotions that we don’t think about.
The view from behind a cannon in Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Today’s verse is Isaiah 41:10.
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.
If you asked another person why they shouldn’t be afraid, I’m pretty positive the answer would come back as a list of reasons, depending on the situation. Why shouldn’t you be afraid of a break-in? You have a security system. Why shouldn’t you be afraid of a hail storm? You have car insurance. Why shouldn’t you be afraid of the dentist? And so on and so forth. So when God chooses to give reasons for why we shouldn’t be afraid or discouraged in this verse, it’s interesting to note His reasons.
Don’t be afraid because God is with you.
Don’t be discouraged because I am your God.
Are those sufficient reasons to turn from fear and discouragement? Obviously, God thinks so, or He wouldn’t have said it. These are His words via the prophet Isaiah to the people of Israel, offering comfort and help.
The fear part I get. We shouldn’t be afraid because God is with us. If God’s with us, who can be against us? If God is with us, nothing can harm us that He hasn’t allowed, and even if something does harm us, He’ll be there throughout. He won’t leave us. I can grasp that on a rational level, although the emotional level is a little more difficult. Once fear gets its claws in you, it’s hard to break loose of its hold.
We don’t need to fear the unknown. We don’t need to fear what we don’t know. We don’t need to fear period. God is with us. He’s got it handled. He knows what’s He’s doing.
Okay. So what about discouragement? Don’t be discouraged because God is our God. What? What sense does that make? Is that even an answer to the question?
I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but God doesn’t always answer our questions in a way that we expect. Half the time, He’ll answer with a question. And the rest of the time He’ll answer the question we don’t even know we’re asking. He knows our hearts, and He knows what we need to hear, especially when we don’t know. But He’s always right. And He always says what we need. So what does this mean?
Why shouldn’t I be discouraged? I am your God.
Think about that statement for a moment. I am your God. What does that mean to you? To me, it means that I have access to a power greater than myself. It means that God has got everything figured out and He’s willing to let me in on it. It means that God has chosen me, not that I chose Him. I have, but He chose me first to be a part of His big plan.
For me, discouragement comes when I’ve failed or when I’ve given in to something I know I shouldn’t have done. For me, discouragement is a response to my inadequacy. And when I think about it that way, it suddenly makes sense.
I shouldn’t discouraged because God chose me in spite of my failures and inadequacies. My shortcomings are no surprise to Him. He knows all about them. I shouldn’t be trying to get through life on my own anyway. Remember? God is with me? That means He’s with me in the good times as well as the bad times.
When discouragement rears its ugly head, I need to remember that my life isn’t about me. It’s not about my failures or my successes. It’s about God and what God is doing and what He wants to do. I’m a part of His plan because He put me there–right where He wants me–and nothing is going to happen that He didn’t already know about. Nothing is going to catch Him off guard. And when I fail–and I will–I don’t need to give in to discouragement because He’s my God and He never leaves people behind.
Discouragement is as much a choice as fear is. True, I think it’s more of a response to giving into fear, but both of them are choices. And God has equipped us to face both down. So if you’re facing a tough situation today or if you’re just feeling blue, don’t give in. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be discouraged.
God is with you. He’s your God. He wants to help.
Choose to let Him.