Wow! I've literally had to just sit and drink in the streams of encouragement that flow from these verses. The Israelites were facing many fears at this point in their history. We are as well - both privately and as a nation. Do not these verses scream out of the loving-kindness of our God. He sees our frailties, He takes notice of our weakness, He comforts us and encourages us to be overcomers through His presence and through His promise. Even after the words of Isaiah 41 we may still be given over to fear. Here is another reminder to flee from fear to faith.
As the redeemed we should not fear because:
2) God is our Redeemer. "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine!" Not only has God made us, but through Christ He has redeemed us. Pacian has said, “He will not allow him that is redeemed to be destroyed, nor will He cast away those whom He has redeemed with such a great price.” The very fact that God has bought us with so great a price, has adopted us into His family at the cost of His own blood, and has put His name in and on us - "You are Mine!" - should asuage our fears.
3) God is with us. "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you." His presence is ever with us in the greatest difficulties and dangers that life can hurl our way. We are never alone. He will never leave or forsake us.
4) God is protecting us. "...the river will not overflow you...the flame will not burn you." Keep in mind the symbollic, figurative nature of this language. I am not to presume upon God and tempt His merciful promises by thrusting myself into a raging river or casting myself in to a burning inferno. That is foolishness, not faith. But God will uphold His people in the trials He sends. The raging rivers, the flaming fires of life will not be able to truly hurt me but will be used by my God to sanctify me and to make me more like Him. Even if God is pleased to take my life in the midst of them - "to live is Christ and to die is gain." I need not fear, for even the worst scenarios are ultimately working for my good and for His glory!
5) God looks at us as precious. "Since you are precious in My sight, since you are honored and I love you." What tender language our God speaks here. I am forced to pause and meditate on the awesomeness of these words. Here are the written experessions of love and affection. Believers, we are "precious" to God! We are considered the "apple of His eye." That which He holds as precious and dear, that which He loves He will guard. Thieves and vandals may be able to break in and ruin that which is precious to me for I am weak. But who can ransack the treasures of the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God. We are safe, we are secure, we are loved!!
6) God will gather His scattered seed at the perfect and proper time. "Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' And to the south, 'Do not hold them back.' Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth.'" The trials Israel is facing in this context have scattered them abroad - hither, thither and yon, but He will gather them together at last. God will not lose even one of His precious little ones. We may be out of each others sight, but we are never out of His. Israel was gathered together again through King Cyrus of Persia. God will return again, in His perfect time to gather His precious, loved children to the celestial city where we will never be scattered again.
7) God has called us and formed us for a purpose - His glory! "Everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made." I am not my own. We are not our own. "Do you not know...that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body?" (1 Cor 6:19-20)
The sooner I get it in my head that this life is not about me but that it is about Him, the happier I will be. Selfish living produces fear, fatigue and failure. I will never be happy while living for myself - been there, done that, tried it for years, threw the t-shirt away! True joy, true purpose, true meaning, true peace come from living for Him. "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you" (Mt 6:33). "Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it" (Ps 37:3-5).
This morning, as I find myself facing so many things that could drive me to fear I am reminded once again that faith is the antidote. Faith in the God who has formed me, redeemed me, called me by name. Faith in the God who is with me, who protects me, who looks upon me as precious. Faith in the God for whose glory I was created. O gracious and loving Father would you grant me this day to live FOR you and would you cast my fears away in the process.
In His glorious grace,