What is God saying to our anxiety at this time?
Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, He will come with vengeance; with divine retribution He will come to save you.”
Isaiah 35:4 NIV
WE ARE living in a time when most people have fearful hearts — whether we admit it or not. The news is back to epidemic statistics. It's worse in Europe; it's set to get worse here. People we know have lost their jobs and others are having hospital treatment delayed. Apparently, only a fifth of those told to isolate themselves do so. There is no cure in sight, nor a prevention — it's all taking time, too much time.
When our perspective is fastened on seeing the this-world reality, there's plenty to be anxious about: I am vulnerable, pretty much on my own and surrounded by threats which I don't fully understand.
But that is not the only perspective. Faith in God also provides a viewpoint. Here, the picture is bigger. To the extent that I know God, I am not alone. When He talks about Himself in the Bible, it is to explain His mercy and compassion and His way of treating us better than we deserve, Exodus 34:5-6.
However, it's a bit of a challenge to know someone we can't see and don't find it easy to talk to. So God sent His Son Jesus into the world. The Bible says He is the exact representation of God in human form, Hebrews 1:3. Not living in first-century Palestine, we didn't get to see Him, but the Bible also makes it clear that He was resurrected from the dead to new life, and seen by a great many people before ascending into heaven. Spiritually, He is present and accessible, someone we can talk to more easily and who is a bridge, introducing us, and ushering us into the presence of God the Father.
The first thing that Jeremiah said, has happened. And Jesus will come again. But He will also come, drawing near as a response to our anxious call for help. The words "Be strong, do not fear" have a peace-bringing ring to them when spoken by someone who is standing right next to us.
What about the vengeance, the divine retribution? Another version says, "Your God is coming to destroy your enemies", NLT. The original enemies of God's people were the Assyrians and Babylonians who overran the country and took the majority of people away into exile. That was a domination that didn't last.
Hearing that as God speaking into our present circumstances, who are our enemies, and how does this play out? We have an enemy who works by deception, fear and every kind of oppression. People who are ill or who have lost their jobs or who can't sleep at night because of anxiety are experiencing oppression! And God is far from relaxed about this.
He didn't send the pandemic. There is no sickness, no threat and no fear in heaven — He doesn't have any to send. Satan, the one who appeared to Jesus in His 40-day desert retreat, does this, bringing deception where he has access through man's pride and other sin — getting us to listen to the wrong voice and become fearful about it. His work includes sickness and any means of destroying life and peace.
God sent His Son Jesus to live a perfect, unselfish life, and through His sacrificial death on the Cross, to break the power of the enemy of our souls.
That power HAS been broken; however we have to believe it, and it is up to us to enforce it. That's called faith.
Just as the devil is always working to harm our lives (and to deceive us into to blaming God if he can), so the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is working tirelessly to save us. If we ask God to save us in a difficult situation, that is what He does. He is doing it all the time, like the RAC are attending to cars in difficulty all the time.
The answer from heaven is, "Be strong and do not fear. Your God will come... to save you."
If that is the answer, there has to be a question! And that is the part we do. We have to ask and we have to trust. We can't leave it to others. We can't expect the pastor, priest or vicar to do it for us. We can't just passively hope — that's like sitting in your broken-down car and hoping someone will notice.
There is a duty on us to trust God, and ask Him to do, what He is already at work doing. To come to Him through Jesus is the way He has provided for us. But we have to make the call, believing that He loves us and cares for us and is responding to our need. Believing in His love, not fear, and being confident that He is actively coming — and also saving.
We can know God — through Jesus, who is the exact representation of Him and a person we can relate to. And God is attentive to those who call on Him. His command is to be strong in Him and not fearful and the promise that goes with that, is that He is coming — and saving.
We are living in an anxious time, but we can say 'no' to fears, with the confidence of knowing that in Jesus we belong to God, and we are positioned to call Him and know His saving response. The promise is that He will come. We have an essential part to play in this, exercising faith by calling on Him and believing His promise.
Lord, I should have listened to You! I should have focused on what You have promised and what You are saying. Instead, I confess that I have listening too much to the voice of the enemy, entertaining the fears and the nagging doubts, and I have not said 'no' to them as I should.
Your command is not to fear and to be strong in You. Your expectation is that I take You at Your word — You will come to save. Forgive me for my unbelief. Strengthen me in faith and resolve to stand, as You are standing with me.
Thank You for Your promise. Thank You for Jesus, my way to know and receive the promise. Thank You for making me strong — not in myself, but in You. Amen.
It's good to express how we feel and we all talk about the latest news — but how will you talk about it differently in the light of this promise?