Encouragement for These Anxious Times

In America, we can look back over our history to the Gay Nineties, the post-war anticipation and opportunity of the 1950’s, even the prosperity and advancement of the 1980’s. From our vantage point, these eras seem to be laced with a nostalgic air of hope and optimism.

I wonder how, if the Lord tarries, people of the future will characterize these fraught times we’re living in right now. The Terrible Twenties? The Age of Anxiety?

From draconian, and often senseless, COVID restrictions to the very real harm and death the disease itself sometimes brings, from the terror the Taliban is inflicting on Afghanistan to the police in our own streets standing idly by as anarchy unfolds, fear – like the air we breathe – seems to be the watchword of our epoch.

Are you afraid, dear sister?

It would be hard, and maybe a little crazy, to look at what’s going on in the world and not be at least a little apprehensive. What’s going to happen to me? My children? My home? My church?

But God did not create us to live in fear of our circumstances. There’s not a single place in Scripture where God says fear of temporal things is good. On the contrary, He instructs us not to fear, but to trust in Him.

Let’s take a look at God’s instructions and encouragement to us when we’re anxious and fearful…

“Fear not,” is a command, not a suggestion.

Fear is a natural response to scary situations, but that’s just it…it’s a natural response, not a godly response. When we’re scared of potential or impending circumstances, God’s first instruction to us goes completely against the grain of our flesh: “Fear not.”

Those of us who are in Christ are not slaves to fears of the flesh. We have a choice. We can give in to fear, or we can tell our fears to scram. We are responsible to make the conscious choice to put off our fear in order to put on trust in the Lord.

Say to those who have an anxious heart,
“Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God
will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you.”

Isaiah 35:4

“You are my servant,
I have chosen you and not cast you off”;
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.

For I, the Lord your God,
hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Fear not,
I am the one who helps you.”

Isaiah 40:9b-10, 13

I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. Luke 12:4

“Trust in the Lord,” is an imperative,
not an option.

You know the old saying, “Nature abhors a vacuum.”? That dynamic holds true for our spiritual lives as well. So, the Lord didn’t just give us the “don’t” of “Fear not,” He also gave us the “do” of “Trust Me, instead.” Choosing to place our trust in Him is an act of honor, worship, and obedience.

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Psalm 37:4

When I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me?
Psalm 56:3-4

He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. Psalm 112:7

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. Proverbs 29:25

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. Jeremiah 17:7

God is worthy of our trust.

God has given us good reason to trust Him, both in His actions and in His character.

In His actions, God has shown us His power to rescue time and time again in Scripture – from the flood, from the foe, from the fiery furnace, from famine, from faithless men.

In His character, He has proved Himself faithful, true to His Word, honorable, loving, compassionate, and benevolent.

God is worthy of our trust.

“Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? Exodus 15:11

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? Numbers 23:19

“There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty. The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. Deuteronomy 33:26-27a

Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you? Psalm 71:19

You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield. Psalm 115:11

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. Isaiah 26:4

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; Isaiah 59:1

if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself. 2 Timothy 2:13

I will never leave you nor forsake you. Hebrews 13:5b

Suffering and trials benefit us.

What an absurd thing to say, right? Only if you live in a world so broken and fallen that your perspective is the polar opposite of God’s perspective. Well…that’s where I live, and you do too. We see suffering and trials as altogether, thoroughly awful with no redeeming qualities. But that is not how God sees them.

Often, our fears center on difficult or painful circumstances that could come our way. But God uses trials and suffering for our good. They make us more like Jesus. They develop Christian character. They create a greater dependence on God. And if we suffer for the sake of Christ, it is an honor and will be rewarded.

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. Genesis 50:20

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:10-12

Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. Acts 5:41

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 1 Peter 4:12-14

Christ is our hope.

We weren’t created to find our hope in the things of this world. Even before the Fall, the glory of the Garden was not in its unsullied beauty, its unfettered joy, or its bountiful provision. The glory of the Garden was God Himself – His presence, His care, His love.

God has given us a “foretaste of Glory divine” that we carry around with us every day – the indwelling Holy Spirit – who causes us to hope in Christ now, and in Christ yet to come.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, Ephesians 1:18

the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27b

For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. 1 Timothy 4:10

waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, Titus 2:13

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 1 Peter 1:3

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13

God wins.

If everything around you is crumbling, and you don’t know what to do or how you’re going to make it, you can take hope and joy in one thing as a Believer.

God wins.

Say it with me: God wins.

Say it over and over again to yourself when you’re scared: God wins. God wins. God wins.

It doesn’t matter how badly things go for you in this world, God owns you, body and soul, and no one can snatch you out of His hand. Even if something or someone kills you, He gets to bring you home, and you get to be with Him.

Nothing will happen to you that is outside of God’s sovereign control. He knew it was coming. He ordained it for your good. He guides every twist and turn of it. He knows exactly what to do and how to handle it. And, He knows how and when it’s going to end. Nothing escapes His notice.

And one day, He’s going to come back and set everything right. Every injustice will be rectified. Every mystery will be solved. Every saint will be vindicated.

God always gets His way, and that’s good news for those of us who belong to Him. God wins.

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? Matthew 6:27

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:34

For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Matthew 16:27

But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:13

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4