By Kim Longden
My daughter makes adorable crochet creations, and she and I decided to give it a whirl and try selling one on Facebook Marketplace. A woman from out of state was interested in purchasing, so I had to go through a whole process of figuring out how to receive payments, calculate shipping, and complete a whole transaction online—not something I had ever done before.
That’s why I had to log into our bank account a few nights ago to get some information. As I was copying down what I needed, the account balance caught my eye. God has consistently provided for our family through the years in creative ways I never could have imagined, so I’m learning not to obsess over the numbers on the screen as if they are the sole indicator of our security. However, on that night, our bank balance made me pause for some reason.
I am prone to worry—so much so that we joke about that fact that I will FIND things to worry about. As a result, fears over finances sometimes still creep in despite God’s proven faithfulness. So, what started as a quick compiling of information turned into an onslaught of financially catastrophic “what ifs.” These concocted scenarios caused anxiety as I convinced myself that their potential (and imaginary) cost would surely exceed this number I was looking at on the screen.
I couldn’t shake the downward spiral for the rest of the evening.
I was not only worried, but I was also frustrated that I was worried. I was unable to rest in the peace of knowing Jesus would continue to meet us in any situation just as He always has.
It was like, “Well, since we haven’t actually encountered such and such, I can’t imagine how God would work through it; so now I’m scared.”
I went to bed that night fearful, and mad at myself over being fearful. Rather than sleeping calmly, I tossed and turned in my tumult of “what ifs.”
The next morning, I dragged myself out of bed for my personal Bible study time. I have been slowly working my way through the book of Isaiah in my Lutheran Study Bible, and I was reading Isaiah 41. I paused when I got to Isaiah 41:10:
“…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 righteous right hand.”
I looked down at the footnote for this verse which said:
Because our sinful nature is hesitant to believe that there is nothing whatsoever to fear if God says, “I am with you,” He must say it again and again, “Fear not,” and thus strengthen our faith.
All the worries and “what ifs” from the night before poured into my mind; but at that moment, sitting at Jesus’s feet with the truth of God’s Word, a greater flood of peace came and washed the worries away.
The reminder that God is with me, just as God was with the Israelites, and that I need not fear shored up my faith and renewed my trust. It is such an awesome thing how the Spirit meets us personally in Scripture like this! That personal touch reminds that I’m known and loved, and that God is truly with me.
I call these times my “lost sheep” moments and imagine my Shepherd coming to me personally in my time of trouble to set my mind at ease and bring me back in to a place of peace with His loving care.
Not only did God’s Word reassure me that God is with me and I need not fear, the footnote calmed me, too. What a comfort to know that God says “fear not” again and again to strengthen our faith! God knows our weakness and meets us right where we are.
As frustrated as I was with myself for slipping back into worry, God wasn’t frustrated with me, or mad at me, or even surprised. Jesus knows me. He knows I am prone to worry. And He loves me anyway.
Jesus knows I need to hear it again and again, so He just keeps saying it over and over in His Word:
I am with you.
I am with you.
While I was beating myself up for “not getting it,” God’s Word gave me further grace as the Spirit reminded me how often God’s servants of old required a divine “fear not.” Even the “heroes of the faith” needed their faith shored up now and then!
To Abraham: “Fear not, I am your shield…” (Genesis 15:1).
To Isaac: “I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you…” (Genesis 26:24)
To Joshua: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
While I was reading these “fear not” passages, I noticed a command to meditate on God’s Word both day and night (Joshua 1:8). More and more I’m realizing that this directive isn’t part of some pious checklist God wants us to complete, but an invitation to a life guided by the One who knows everything that has happened in the past, everything that is happening right now, and everything that will happen in the future.
The promise in God’s Word that Jesus is with me and for me stopped my downward spiral of fear. The experience of being personally and intimately known and loved redirected me toward truth and peace. Who knows how far this spiral would have gone if I hadn’t opened my Bible that morning?
It is true that God’s presence fills the whole world, but God promises to meet us personally in the words of Scripture: God’s Word literally at our fingertips. It’s exciting to know that when I read the Bible, its author is there alongside me with His saving power and grace!
I often forget about the excitement of this reality when my alarm goes off in the morning and my bed is so comfortable or it’s been a rough night, but I’m figuring out that feeding on God’s Word each day is just as important—actually, exponentially more important—than the breakfast I’ll have soon after.
Because frankly, my mind will find something else to worry about; I know me too well. I’m realizing that it is essential for me to stay close to Jesus and be filled with the truth and promises of His Word each and every day. He knows me even better than I do, and loves me anyway.
I wonder what words the Spirit has chosen for me today…