Fear Not That Which is Frightening (Isa 43:1-3)

| Mon, Jan 6, 2014 | Set 4 Week 2

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…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 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. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…—Isaiah 43:1-3

As my wife settled into the oncology chair, drugs pouring into her body that would take her to the edge of death for the sake of delaying death from her Stage IV cancer, she simply said, “let’s memorize some Scripture.”

I don’t usually remember where I memorized most texts, but I’ll never forget that day or these verses. And God in his mercy gave us exactly what we needed and still need.

It begins with the impossible: fear not. How could we not fear? She carried a disease that would kill her, unless God intervened through the common grace of medicine or his miraculous touch (or both). The road to her living was paved with suffering as well, including extraordinary trauma to her body. And I couldn’t do one thing to relieve that pain or take away the disease.

Yet the command is not one based on our own strength but on what God has already done: I have redeemed you. Even better, it is a specific, very personal redemption – “you are MINE!” Is there anything better in all the universe than to hear the creator of everything say those words?

As Jesus taught us, my wife had already passed from death to life (John 5:24) and could even join with Abraham’s wife, Sarah, and not “fear anything that is frightening”
(1 Peter 3:6). With God, the impossible becomes possible (Mark 10:27).

God is also kind in these verses to point out that it is ‘when’ and not ‘if’ the suffering comes that his presence is absolutely sure. Suffering is certain, and God’s help is even more certain. But it gets better than that.

The suffering has a purpose – it is for God’s glory and for our good! As Pastor John Piper helpfully pointed out in his sermon, To Him Be Glory Forevermore:

In Romans 8:18, Paul says this hope makes all the sufferings we have to experience in this life worth it: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” The glory of God will be so overwhelmingly satisfying that the horrors of a long illness and a painful death will be as nothing in comparison. “For this slight momentary affliction [this whole painful life seen as momentary!] is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison”
(2 Corinthians 4:17).

In the years since I first memorized these verses I’ve met dozens of people going through extraordinary suffering – disease, death of children, long-term disability. The evil one frequently uses their circumstances to create doubts about God’s care for them. These verses from Isaiah 43 come quickly to mind in reminding brothers and sisters in Christ that God is not only powerful, he is very personally involved in their hardships.

Yes, equal to the joy of our experiencing God’s help through God’s word is pointing others to that help!

The Lord has been merciful and allowed my wife to live for nine years with Stage IV cancer. But someday my wife’s body, and mine, and yours, will succumb to something. So, whether in our living or in our dying (no matter how long and hard that process might be), point people to the Holy One of Israel, your Savior!

__________________________


John Knight serves as Senior Director of Development at Desiring God and is the primary blogger at The Works of God: Reflections on the sovereignty of God over disability, disease and suffering, for God’s glory and for our good. John and his wife, Dianne, are the parents of four children, including Paul, who lives with multiple disabilities.

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3 Responses to “Fear Not That Which is Frightening (Isa 43:1-3)”

  1. Holly Says:

    Thanks, John. If there was no need to fight for faith, there’d be no need to memorize scripture, and no need for Fighter Verses. God indeed gave us these words for the hard times.

    Reply

  2. whitneyz2013 Says:

    Thank you!!

    Reply

  3. Emily Says:

    I think this is right on!!

    I wanted to ask a question, though. This is something I have wondered in the past and am presently wondering, as well. Do you, as a man of God, believe that these verses can also be used in times of a different sort of discouragement? I have been battling a certain sin in my life for a few months now. Conviction sets in immediately after I think of what I have done, and I regularly spend time in the Word. I pray for forgiveness and ask God to humble me and intervene so that I may not sin against Him. I recognize that I specifically stumble when I take matters into my own hands and tell God with my heart that He is not enough for me in that moment. This breaks my heart, but when I get in another situation in which I am faced with this sin, it has come to pass that it is SELDOM that I am able to turn to Christ. As I said, I recognize that this is entirely my sinful flesh and it is a heart problem on my part. However, I wanted to know if you believe I can use these verses such as Isaiah 43:1-3 as encouragement that God will help me if I humble myself and turn to Him in those situations. I know that this trial is not a persecution like that which is being spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, and I know that this “trial,” is brought on solely by my sinful heart and my pride. I simply wanted to see what you thought about referring to these verses when I’m asking God to help me in these situations.

    Thank you! God bless your willingness to submit to the Spirit of discernment!

    Reply

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