Happy New Year! It is a new year. Are you happy? It’s time to reflect on the past and look towards the future. How does that make you feel? Are you excited? Or, are you tired and looking for relief? Do you feel dread or do you fear the challenges/unknowns in front of you?

“fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”—Is 41:10

What does the New Year mean to me? Well, to be honest …the first thing that comes to my mind is usually football. What can I say? I love the bowl season! Watching sports has always been a great pastime and stress reliever for me. We all need something to help us at times. (In fact, I plan to add a stress relief section to Caring Vine’s website to include such things as a sports blog, humor items and maybe puzzles.)

But, once I get past the sports activities on TV – my mind goes to more serious topics and issues at the beginning of a new year. Eventually I must get back to the real world! That’s when my mind tends to kick into high gear. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing – if my mind went mostly towards positive thoughts. However, lately my thoughts tend to focus more on the circumstances around me. There are times I feel like I’m the only one who worries about or fears the future or unknowns.

Then I read verses like Isaiah 41:10, and I see that I must not be the only one who has fearful thoughts! Otherwise, why would God keep repeating it! I have noticed the words – fear not quite a bit in the Bible. Obviously this has been an issue for God’s people throughout history. For example, you can see these two words in the following verses of the book of Isaiah: Is 41:10, 13, 14; 43:1, 5; 44:2, 8. During this time in history, the Jewish people have difficulties and challenges surrounding them. God does his best to reassure and encourage his people.

As I noted above, God doesn’t just say fear not one time. He says it numerous times. Each time he adds words of encouragement or reasons why his people should not be afraid. I like that. I like that a lot! Why? Because, I’m reminded of and realize that:

  • God understands that we face difficulties and challenging times AND that we need reassuring.
  • God doesn’t get upset that he must repeatedly try to calm our fears. He just makes a point to reassure us when we need it (if we are listening).
  • When he says fear not, God gives us reasons why we shouldn’t be afraid or dismayed:
    • He is [I am – not I was or I will be] – Present tense – He lives (Is 41:10)
    • He is with us (Is 41:10; 43:5; Deut 31:8; Is 7:14-Immanuel [God with us])
    • He is our God (Is 41:10)
    • He knows us by name and we are his (Is 43:1)
    • He is our creator (Is 43:1)
    • He is our redeemer (Is 43:1)
    • He is our protector
      • He will strengthen us (Is 41:10)
      • He will help us (Is 41:10)
      • He will uphold us (Is 41:10)
    • He goes before us (Deut 31:6)
    • He will never leave or forsake us (Deut 31:6, 8)
    • He is sovereign and he uses people and situations around us to accomplish his will (Prov 21:1)
  • God shows us what to redirect our minds to –> from circumstances and fears -> to him, his characteristics, what he provides for us and who we are in him.

I can get down on myself when I realize that I need to be told something over and over again. I feel like I’m failing. But then the repeated words of fear not from God to his people in scripture help to remind me that we all need repeated reassurance and redirection at times.

God doesn’t want us to be immobilized or paralyzed with fear. He wants to remind us that he is sovereign and he is with us. So, as we begin this New Year – even with all the unknowns and uncertainties in front of us – remember: fear not – because God is with us, he has gone before us, he is strengthening us, he is helping us and he will uphold us!

My Prayer:

Dear Lord, thank you for loving us so much that you want to encourage us. Thank you for trying to calm our fears when we struggle. You know our tendencies. You created us – so you know them better than even we do ourselves. You know where we get off track and get bogged down. But instead of getting frustrated and angry with us – you just meet us where we are. You remind us of how you have been with us in the past, that you are still with us and you actually go before us to prepare our way.

You are sovereign. You can use anyone or any situation in our lives to accomplish your will. We need not fear. Sounds so simple. Yet, circumstances slap us in the face when we least expect it. Thank you for being so faithful, loving, and understanding – even when we are not.

As we begin a new year, and our minds begin to spin with negative thoughts, help us to come back to this verse, Lord. As the fears creep in – when we struggle, please whisper or shout in our ear (whichever way we will best hear you at the time) – fear not – for I am with you! No matter how much it may feel like we are – we are NOT alone.

You are with me. AND you are also with dad. Thank you. I need that reminder too. You love us, are with us, protect us, strengthen us, help us and uphold us at all times. We love you, Lord. In Jesus Christ’s name we pray. Amen.