As my wife Kama was preparing for surgery last fall with the expectation of a fairly lengthy recovery, it was understandable that she was experiencing levels of anxiety and apprehension. A friend of hers who had had gone through surgery herself shared a couple Scriptures from the Bible that had given her strength and encouraged her faith. Kama was so encouraged that she wrote out the verses on a recipe card and took them with her to the hospital.
Isaiah 41:10, 13
10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
13 For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you.
God’s offer to those who put their trust in Him is that in the face of uncertainty and in times of trial, they don’t have to be afraid. This passage does not so much offer solutions to the problems of suffering, but rather it provides the promise of a God who is completely present with us in suffering. God doesn’t just command us not to live in fear, He also gives us the reasons why. On what basis can a person live free of fear no matter what he or she may be facing?
“I am your God.” He doesn’t just say “I am God”; He makes it personal. He is your God. As believers, we understand that God becomes personal when we embrace His salvation in Christ.
“I will uphold you in my righteous right hand.” Relationships are built on trust, and that trust is based on the character of the one you are relating to. Here God is described as righteous, and in fact He is the source of all righteousness. Because He righteous and good and just, you can allow Him to scoop you up in His hands.
“I will strengthen you and help you.” The Marvel franchise has had great success over the years with their super hero movies. What draws us to movies like this is the idea of having special powers available to us and heroes showing up when you need them the most. These are just made up stories for our entertainment, but God is real and He promises strength beyond our own capabilities and guidance through our situations. This strength comes in many forms. For example, in Philippians 4:7 we are promised supernatural peace: “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
“I will hold your hand.” This is a little different from being held in his hands. He is also holding your hand. In other words, fear does not have to immobilize you. You can move forward in life because He is holding your hand. The picture I get is of a child in a dark alley in a scary part of town walking confidently because he or she is holding her father’s strong hand.
I appreciate how the Message renders these verses:
Don’t panic. I’m with you.
There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.
I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.
I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go.
I’m telling you, ‘Don’t panic. I’m right here to help you.’
A few days after my wife’s surgery, I came into the hospital room to check on her. She was sleeping, so I visited with the woman in the bed across from her who was battling cancer. Her husband sat by her side. In her hand was my wife’s recipe card with the Scripture written on it. They were both so encouraged by God’s promise to be with them in their trial. A few months later I had the privilege of officiating this lady’s funeral, and I was able to offer hope from this same Scripture during the message. Just as my wife passed on her recipe card, my hope for you in reading this today is that you will allow God to scoop you up into His strong right hand in the midst of whatever you are going through. Be not dismayed!