28th November 2023
Jim Berg offers
Comforting Words from God
for Anxious Times
Anxiety and fear are familiar to all of us, especially in these uncertain times.
We sense that we are vulnerable physically, economically and socially and that certain important aspects of our lives are threatened and may never return to normal.
The "fear factor" increases when the strength and the likelihood of a threat increases and when that threat touches something that is important to us.
So how should we think about fear, and how can we address it in our souls in a way that brings God into the picture, quiets our noisy souls, and honours Him?
We need to know something about our God and what He has said to people facing uncertainty and vulnerability.
When our three adult daughters were in elementary school, they would often come home from school with some problem.
No matter what the issue, the usual response was one of fear and anxiety.
My wife would talk them through the issue and ask them, "What do we know to be true about God?"
She often reminded them of Isaiah 41:10.(TLB)
Fear not, for I am with you.
Do not be dismayed.
I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with my victorious right hand
In this verse God is calling His people to take comfort in who He is and what He has promised to them in times of uncertainty and vulnerability.
While the Scriptures record hundreds of references to "fear not," we shouldn't think of most of them as scoldings
(i.e., "Now, you stop fearing! Do you hear Me!").
Rather they are tender invitations for anxious people to turn their faces to their great and loving God in trust and obedience.
Think of them as the comforting admonitions a father might give a child who has just awakened from a bad dream.
A loving father would come into the room, sit on the edge of the bed, hold his child, and whisper,
"It's OK, Sweetie. Daddy is right here. You don't have to be afraid."
In most cases, the child would settle down in Dad's arms still whimpering a bit and eventually fall back asleep.
The child was comforted by Dad's words and His presence.
Dad's presence in the room would not be a comfort to a child, however, if Dad were known to be impatient, angry, mean-spirited, or if he came into the room shouting,
"Shut up! There are people in this house who need to sleep!"
Dad is a comfort only if the child knows him to be consistently caring and willing to use his greater strength for the benefit of the child.
In times of uncertainty and vulnerability, God's words will comfort us based upon our current perspective of God.
It is not enough just to know what He has said to us in troubling times and repeat a Bible verse as a distraction from the more troubling thoughts in our minds.
We must also know well the One who said them for our soul to trustingly rest in them.
The pattern is clear from the passage before us in Isaiah 41.
The children of Israel were facing hard, uncertain times.
They were vulnerable and anxious.
God writes chapters 40-66 to comfort them by reminding them of who He is and how committed He is to them as His people.
He shows them that He is amazingly powerful, wise and loving toward His people.
Though some promises made in these chapters apply only to Israel, the chapters reveal the disposition and character of God that is a comfort to us today.
These are times to increase our dosage of study and meditation on God's Word!
As the threat increases, so must our knowledge of, trust in, and obedience to God increase.
Let's open our Bibles and discover afresh who He is and what He has promised to anxious souls.
This is an edited version. The full article and Bible references are avaiable on request
is a professor of biblical counselling at BJU Seminary, has a DMin in biblical counselling from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, is a Commissioned Addictions Biblical Counsellor (CABC), and a certified biblical counsellor with the Association of Biblical Counsellors.