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. Isaiah 41:10
As I write, I am learning that endurance and hope are two sides of the same coin. I am seeing my heretofore self-centered THEO-logy (go figure!) coming to naught. And, I am seeing that as a good thing! God is really good at disappointing us when we try to make it all about us. Fortunately, hope is welling up in my spirit as I began to believe, truly believe that God is real and I can live as if He is real! And, I am enjoying the gift of endurance... with a glorious and eternal Banquet set for me in the (hopefully) near future.
God being real is easy for the mind but not for the feet. I give intellectual ascent to a real God, but do I - day to day - behave as if He is real? Fear and worry are my middle names. I have taken anxiety-reducing medications! Matthew 6 says repeatedly that worry is a sin.
Last week, I had to ask my son to leave our home. His choices simply did not come in line with our values, plain and simple. Counsel from many trusted friends affirmed our decision. Yet, I worry and I am very afraid. Granted, some of that is both legitimate and good. But, will I rest in faith on the belief that I am doing the right thing, that God is Who He says He is - my Provider, He loves and grieves for my son more than I do, and that my obedience will not come to calamity (at least, as He defines calamity)?
A.W. Tozer writes, right out of the starting blocks in The Knowledge of the Holy, page 1:
...The gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like.
Again, he says:
A god begotten in the shadows of a fallen heart will quite naturally be no true likeness of the true God.
So, because my God is too small (as J.B. Phillips would say), when I read Isaiah 41, it has no consequence for me. It is no big deal, only stained-glass words from an archaic Bible.
Take a test yourself. Read Philippians 4:19 and ask if you really do believe it.
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
OK, belief is tested in life not words. One can only answer that question as one is, just that, tested!
I am being tested.
God, through Isaiah, is saying to me, "Greg, do not fear... namely BECAUSE I AM WITH YOU." He follows: "The very reason I ask you to abandon dismay is that I AM YOUR GOD." He goes further, " I can and will give you all the strength and help you need and... I AM THE LOVING AND FATHERLY SAFETY NET UNDERNEATH YOU RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT." Get it? Fear and dismay are quenched under the overwhelming soul-entrenched Presence of a Big God!
What I believe about God is being challenged! God, grant me the grace to believe unto daring and courageous and trusting obedience. Please help my unbelief.