“But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: ‘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.’” Isaiah 43:1-2
Fear is something that we all face. Fear is a reality for us all at one time or another. We fear loss. We fear failure. We fear the unknown. We fear death. We fear. The greatest problem with fear is that it is the enemy of faith. When we live in fear, our faith is crippled. We simply cannot have vibrant faith while living in fear. Both cannot co-exist. It’s one or the other.
Since I was young, I have always been drawn to these verses. Fear has been a constant battle for me for as long as I can remember. From being afraid of the dark and spiders to being afraid of losing my salvation, I’ve always struggled with this ugly thing called fear. I like to think that because of God’s great love for me, He caused these verses to impact my heart since I was a child. Because we are human, we are weak, flawed, and need constant reminders of God’s truth. In our heads, we know the right answers: “God is always with us; He never leaves us nor forsakes us.” Yet, the head knowledge must transfer to heart knowledge in order for there to be a change of behavior.
For starters, verse one begins with the use of the word LORD. I’m not sure if you’ve ever noticed this, but there are numerous times in Scripture where LORD is in all caps. Then, there are many other times when Lord is only with a capital “L”. There is a significant difference. When you see “Lord”, it is referring to God’s position, or His title. It’s similar to a boss, ruler, or position of authority. It would be like saying, “Mr. President”. When you see “LORD”, however, this is God’s covenant name that He gave to His people so that we could know Him personally. “LORD” is personal; it says, “This is my name. Call me by my first name because we are close.” So, just in the introduction of verse one alone, we are given every reason to overcome fear, simply because the God of all creation chose to reveal Himself to you and me, personally. But it doesn’t end there. As you read through verse one and two, we are given the promise of God’s constant presence, in particular His presence in the midst of our trials. These verses assume that we will face trials of many kinds, but the comfort we find in them is that we don’t go it alone. God is right by our side when the fire is raging and when the waters are rising. He chooses to face the storm with us. He is not a distant, removed God, one who chooses to keep His hands clean and remain uninvolved in the lives of His children. No, on the contrary, He is in the water with you. He is in the fire right by your side. That is why you can make it through unburned and with your head above the waves. God doesn’t always remove the fire or the storm, but His promise to be with us through it stands firm.
That is why we need not fear. There is no greater presence than God’s presence. He will see us safely through to the other side. He is fully aware of the trial, the specific storm you are currently facing. He hasn’t allowed the fire to get too hot. He hasn’t permitted the waters to rise too high. Your adversity is being controlled by an almighty God who is fully in control and has a holy purpose for all things. What do you do when you’re afraid? Remember that the God of the universe, the One who spoke the world into existence, the One who holds all of creation in the palm of His hand, the One who calmed the seas by the sound of His voice, the One who went to the cross and overcame sin and death – that God stands by your side. Fear not. He has redeemed you. He has called you by name. You are His. He goes with you. You are not alone.