What do you think is the most repeated command in the Bible? You might guess “Love your neighbor” or “Give praise to God.” Maybe it’s to pray often, or be holy. Oh wait, it must be “Repent!” These are mentioned more than once in Scripture, to be sure, but they don’t come close to the one which is stated in form more than 200 times: “Do not fear.”
I’d say the Lord understands our human condition! Psalm 103:14 says that “He knows how we are formed. He remembers that we are dust.” Of course He knows, since He Himself formed us. But I’m so glad He remembers and takes our weak and frail humanity into account.
When I was in my twenties, I had fears about decisions and plans concerning the future. Which job should I take? Should I live here or there? Should I become a missionary? Will I get married? How will I support myself? Now, with gray hair and creaking knees come thoughts about health, finances and aloneness, which can easily turn from concern to fear. The content of my fears has changed, but my faithful God has not.
Time and time again along the years the Lord has so lovingly comforted me with Isaiah 41:10: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Because we read Scripture rather than hear it orally as originally intended, we can’t always be sure of the emphasis. Read this verse- any verse- aloud, several times emphasizing different words each time and you will notice different shaded of meaning. It’s like the differences between HE loves you. He LOVES you. He loves YOU.
I cannot forget a specific time when the Lord put the Isaiah passage into my heart emphasizing each “I” much stronger than any other word. Do not fear because I- the All Powerful and All Knowing God, Creator of all that exists, your Loving Father, your Savior and Friend, your King, your Guide- am with you. Ah, THAT’S why I should not fear. Because THIS God is with me. THIS God will strengthen me. THIS God will help me and uphold me. Not my neighbor, not my boss, not my finances or the government. Not my intellect or resources, not even my friends or family. THIS God loves us more than we can imagine and holds us tightly in His hand…whatever comes our way.