Fear is a powerful force.
It stops us from doing things we know we should do and can cause us to do things we never thought we would ever do.
One thing that makes fear so powerful is that so often it feels so justified. While we might not say it aloud, we look at our circumstances, and look at God, and think, what else can we do.
In Isaiah 51, we find God’s people praying, and they are praying, because they are afraid, and it seems like they are tempted to think, the reason they are afraid is because God’s not acting.
“Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord; Awake as in the days of old, the generations of long ago.”
While it’s good they are praying, what they are praying is a little questionable, in that they are literally telling God to please wake up! They were afraid, and if you asked them why, they would have looked at their circumstances, and then to God, and said, the reason we are afraid is because God’s not acting, it seems like He is sleeping.
But God’s perspective is very different and in the following verses, He identifies the real causes of their fear.
“I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies and of the son of man who is made like grass.”
That’s reason number one.
Did you catch it?
They were afraid of man, because they had forgotten who they were.
Who are you that you are afraid?
As God’s people, we are obviously human like everyone else, but at the same time, we are not like everyone else. For one thing, we have been given eternal life. Death is not death to us. Imagine a battle between someone who can die and is in the process of dying versus someone who actually can’t truly die. Who wins?
Sometimes we are afraid of the future because we have forgotten our future and are not appreciating what it means to be a child of God.
But, there’s more. He goes on.
“…you have forgotten the LORD your Maker who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, that you fear continually all day long because of the fury of the oppressor.”
They were afraid because not only had they forgotten who they were, they had also forgotten who God is. That’s reason number two.
Now, I don’t think they literally forgot that God was creator of the universe, but in the moment, they were not appreciating and enjoying the fact that the One who saved them and made them who they were was the same One who made the heavens and the earth.
Which is a big deal.
Alec Motyer writes, “To forget God (to live without an immediate sense of who he is, what he has done, his close presence, care and sovereign power) is to live in defeat and disobedience.”
How about you?
Is there anything you know you should do that you won’t do or anything you aren’t doing even though you know you should? What are the excuses have you been giving yourself for your disobedience?
Are you blaming your circumstances?
Are you blaming God?
I wonder if you are willing to consider whether your real problem might actually be the same as the Israelites all those years ago?
Have you forgotten who you are?
Have you forgotten who God is?
To overcome fear today, think carefully about what it means to be a Christian. What privileges do you have that others don’t? And think carefully about what it means for God to be God. What difference does it make that this God is on your side?