Probably one of my largest struggles in this life is the struggle of fear. I stress and fear circumstances like finances, the ability to provide properly for my family, and the outcome of difficult situations. One morning last week while reading Isaiah 43 in my devotions I was convicted. Starting in Verse 1 it says,
“But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
Verse 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
Verse 3 For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Verse 4 Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, people’s in exchange for your life.
Verse 5 Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you.
At the time Isaiah was written, the nation of Israel was the people of God. There were no other nations that He called His own. But in the New Testament with Jesus, things have changed. Through Jesus, the people of God are no longer primarily an ethnic nation but a family of faith/the body of Christ. So the promises that He makes here in this chapter apply to us as the church. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1:20 “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.” So when He says in verse 2 of Isaiah 43 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you” that promise is to us. It doesn’t say we won’t pass through waters or walk through fire as Christians, it even applies we will. I believe we will even get wet and even get hot but the promise is we will not drown or burn.
So is it wrong for me to stress and fear? Well Psalms 14:1 says, ”The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” It does not say that the fool says with his mouth “There is no God”. Actually many do confess there is a God, but most live as if there weren’t. As a Christian our response to difficult situations, knowing our God is near and loves us, should be not to fear.
I believe when we live in fear and worry we are in a sense saying with our heart “There is no God” or “God is not able.” If we believe in a loving and sovereign Lord than we should reflect His love and majesty to a struggling world. This is not to say we will never struggle, but in those struggles we should let our lives be a testimony of what it means to be a child of God. It is the struggle in the cocoon that transforms a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly.
Christians today are easily influenced by the world that surrounds us and we gradually conform to how the world handles struggles. We need to remove the blinders that keep us from seeing God’s glory and gaze upon His face, be exposed of our sin, and be transformed into His image. 2 Corinthians 3:18 “And we all, with unveiling face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
Struggles in this life are not bad, they actually help shape us into what God wants us to be. It is how we respond to these struggles that determines our faith in Him. We can respond as the world with worry and fear, or we can respond by seeking God in prayer and by glorifying Him. I am daily reminded of this promise in Romans 8:31 “If God is for us, who can be against us?”