Overcoming Fear and Anxiety Pt 1.
Read Isaiah 41:5-16
“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.”
The armies of Cyrus appeared to be invincible as his armies swept across the landscape. They had decisively conquered the nation of Babylon that had dominated the Ancient Near East landscape. When Babylon took conquered Israel and took the people into exile, it seemed that all was lost, and the nation of Israel was swept away by the forces of Nebuchadnezzar. For those who remained in the land of Israel, as well as those who were taken into exile to Babylon, life had again settled into the daily routine. However, with the conquest of Cyrus, they were again facing the upheaval and anxiety of the future. What would the future hold? Would the armies of Cyrus wreak havoc upon the people and bring destruction and death throughout the land? These were undoubtedly justifiable fears for powerless people. Whenever conquering armies swept across the landscape, it would bring fear to the hearts of the people.
Under the inspiration of God, the prophet Isaiah anticipated the fear and anxiety the people would experience. Writing over 100 years before the exile of Israel, God, through the prophet Isaiah, sought to encourage them and give them comfort. In verse 5, we can hear the marking of the armies and the trembling of the sound of war as the people suddenly ly realize that the marauding armies have descended upon them. But just when fear is gripping the heart of the most stalwart, God reminds them of his promise and covenant that he made with Abraham. He has chosen them, and even though he has punished them with exile, he has not rejected or abandoned them. In verse 10, we find words of comfort and promise. What captures our attention is the reason that God gives for their confidence. Twice in verse 10, he repeats two critical words that to their fear, “For I.” The brevity of the statement is both simple by immensely comforting, for it points us to the fact that the God of the universe does not neglect or forget us in our times of fear and apprehension. We may not see God, but God always sees us. As Paul states in Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who is against us?” the answer is clear, NO ONE!
In response to the threat, God promises to do three things in verse 10. First, he promises to strengthen his people. The focus of the word “strengthen” is to harden and make firm one’s mind. When fears grip the mind, it makes us confused and timid, but we become resolute and confident when our focus is upon God. Second, he promises to “help.” Not only does God dispel the fear, but he actively becomes involved in bringing us aid. He acts on our behalf. While our problems and circumstances may seem overwhelming to us, God brings the total weight of his infinite power to bear in responding to our threat. Last, he “upholds” us with His righteous right hand. The word uphold has the sense of keeping or maintaining us in an unaltered condition. IN other words, he keeps us secure so that nothing can dislodge us from the safety of his hand. With God on their side, Israel no longer needed to fear the power and might of the armies of Cyrus, for “those who war with you will be as nothing and non-existent” (verse 12). The power and care for God would be realized when he would not only protect them from the armies of Cyrus, but he would use Cyrus to orchestrate their return to the land of Israel and rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple.
What circumstances cause you anxiety and fear? Remember, God is with you and will strengthen you, and the very thing you fear may be the same thing that God uses to pour out his blessing upon you.