The Lord is With You: Or, Why You Don't Have to be Afraid
Recently, the women in my church started doing a Bible study together on the story of Gideon. We're going through the videos and workbooks led by Priscilla Shirer, and every time I go through a new lesson, I am awestruck by how God uses it to speak directly to my heart regarding my current circumstances and life season.
He has addressed issues from the past that are still hanging over my head that need to be let go, and has spoken of what He is preparing me for in the future. It's an exciting process.
One thing that seems to come up over and over again, whether in the video, workbook, or the Scripture itself, is this phrase: "The Lord is with you." In most cases, that phrase is preceded by "Do not be afraid."
I've read these phrases countless times before. It's not like it's saying anything new. But for the first time, it just keeps jumping off the pages and the screen, nearly begging for me to notice.
It's in Joshua 1:9-
Haven't I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
It's in Gideon's story, found in Judges 6:12-
Then the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said: "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior."
It's all over Isaiah (41:10 as an example)-
Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.
Jesus even uses this phrase as His last parting words (Matt. 28:20)-
...And remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
Are you noticing a pattern here?
Each of these verses are being spoken to an individual or a group who are facing some impossible, fear-inducing task. But God's encouragement to each of them is to not to be afraid, because He is with them.
God not aloof. He is not far away. Nor is He ignorant of our predicaments. He is not uncaring about our struggles and trials.
He is WITH YOU.
Now, if you're anything like me, you're probably thinking, Okay, that's great, God; You're with me..... so what?
That's not meant to be a smart-aleck response. It's a genuine question.
So what if God is with us? How is that supposed to make me unafraid?
After all, Him being here with me is not changing these difficult circumstances or challenges I'm having to tackle head-on. God being with me doesn't remove the pain I might face, or the hardship of life's battles.
But therein lies my misunderstanding of the issue - I want God to make all the difficulties just go away. He wants to get me through the difficulties in order to mold me further into the image of Christ.
The purpose of His encouragement is to remind us where our focus should always be.
Remember the story of Peter and Jesus walking on water? When Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he literally walked. on. water. Talk about a miracle!
But the moment he took his eyes off Jesus and onto the swirling storm around them, that's when he started to sink.
Dearest, let's learn from those who've gone before us. Let's take our Jesus at His word (especially when He's taken the trouble of repeating it time and time again).
Let's take hold of the fact that our God is with us, and because of that truth, we can praise like David did,
For by You I can run against a troop, by my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is perfect; the Word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. -Psalm 18:29-30