I wonder as I wonder why God said some of the things he did.
Having read the Bible since I was a little girl, I often wondered why God said Do not be afraid so many times. I do not wonder any more. Since March of 2020, fears of different sorts have taken center stage.
Yet, our great God spoke to us many times about not being afraid.
In the last few weeks, I have been studying about the Puritans who escaped the repressive persecution of England to worship freely in the Netherlands and then on to the New World. In the beautiful Piercing Heaven1, prayers of the Puritans, one line screamed off the page at me in this morning prayer: "As you have now awakened my body from sleep, so, I beg you, awaken my soul from sin and from worldly security." Awaken my soul from worldly security. Wow, did that resonate with me!
There is no reason for the Christian to be afraid if our security is not in this world or what is going on around us. Our security must always be in Jesus Christ alone!
Once again, I look at my brother and mentor Paul the apostle who knows he is nearing the end of his ministry and earthly life. Before the Jews activate an assassination attempt while he is still being held in Jerusalem, the Lord comes to speak to him at night.
. . .the Lord stood near Paul and said, "Take courage!"
As you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.2
Did you catch it? "Take courage...do not be afraid." Jesus tells Paul that this would not be the end of the road for him. . . he would go on to represent Jesus Christ in Rome. Imagine the validation Paul must have felt ‘as you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so in Rome. . .' The Lord was affirming the work of Paul's hands, an answer to the prayer of Psalm 90.17.3 [May the favor of the Lord rest upon me - confirm and establish the work of my hands] It is the believer's prayer to one day hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant.4 Paul got a preview of that day.
"Take courage," words meant to encourage, inspire and embolden often coupled with, "do not be afraid." Over and over, throughout the Old Testament, God told his children not to be afraid. Why? Because He was with them. David wrote, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil..." Why? "for You are with me.5 God's presence assures and comforts us we have no need to fear.
"Take courage," yes, take a hold of it, be courageous, for you are not alone; the Lord your God is with you, and He is mighty to save6, and what's more, his heart is so tender toward you, he wants you not to live in fear. Rest your case with him.
Hold on to these words of his:
>Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear. Luke 12.7
>But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid." Matthew 14.27
>And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, "Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent." Acts 18.9
>These things I have spoken to you; so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." John 16.33
>But Jesus turning and seeing a sick woman said to her, "Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well." At once the woman was made well. Matthew 9.22. I want that kind of faith!
What a tender Father we have. . . who wants us to fully trust in Him and his love for us. Resting there, we need not be anxious, we need not be gripped by fear.
As I read this prayer this morning - a prayer that God would awaken my soul from worldly security, so I remind you - your security is in the Lord alone. In Him, ALL IS WELL; listen to this beautiful song by Carrie Underwood: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66kZYVVzjow
TAKE COURAGE. . . God’s got you,
1 - Piercing Heaven, Prayers of the Puritans. Robert Elmer, Editor, Lexham Press, p. 253-prayer by Lewis Bayly
2 - Acts 23.11
3 - Psalm 90.17 - May the favor of the Lord rest up on you, confirm and establish the work of your hands. Yes, confirm and establish the work of your hands.
4 - Matthew 25.23
5 - Psalm 23.4
6 - Zephaniah 3.17