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‘Fear Not for I am With You" - What Isaiah 41:10 Really Means (and How We Should Respond)

  • Anne Peterson Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
 ‘Fear Not for I am With You" - What Isaiah 41:10 Really Means (and How We Should Respond)

I reached out to my Facebook community and asked, “What is your biggest fear?” But I did not expect the abundance of responses I received. Fear is universal. All of us deal with things that scare us. So how should we respond to God’s Word, ‘Fear not for I am with you?’ Can we honestly take to heart Isaiah 41:10 today and experience freedom because of God's presence? What does this Bible verse really mean?

First of all, we can’t deal with anything we don’t acknowledge. We need to be honest with ourselves and face those fears.

You may be worrying about your children (young or grown), or worrying about a loved one who is sick. Maybe you’re wondering how you’re going to live when a family member has died. All of us can be fearful about our health, or our finances. We can worry about all sorts of things, big and small. And yet, our God knew we would struggle with fear.

So he made sure he wrote about it often in his love letter to us.

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How often does the Bible command us to not be afraid?

How often does the Bible command us to not be afraid?

God is aware of our tendency to fear. And He cares about every fear we face. In the Bible we find commands and encouragements to not feel fear, take courage, fear not, and more – over 300 times. God doesn’t want us to be consumed by fear. And yet, our fears do not surprise him in the least.

We need to realize God is not disappointed in us when we have fears. No more than you are disappointed when one of your children is afraid.

When my daughter was a few years old she must have had a bad dream about the bathtub drain. One night, as I got everything ready for her bath, a look of terror spread across her little face. Even as I helped her into the tub, she began panicking and started crying. She was certain she was going to go down the drain.

Eventually she outgrew that fear, but how would she have felt if I had minimized it? I knew how patient God has been with me when I’ve been afraid and that helped me as I listened to my daughter’s fears. What she needed even more was the assurance I would be right there with her. My presence spoke volumes.

God encourages us to not fear, so that we will trust in His presence; and know He is listening and working on our behalf.

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What the Bible says about fear:

What the Bible says about fear:

The Bible tells us God is not the originator of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). The enemy of our souls loves it when we are afraid. Satan will do anything to get our eyes off of the Savior.

Remember when Peter saw Jesus on the water and wanted to get out of the boat and join him? The weather was not great when Peter made his decision. But looking at Jesus, he decided to do it. Peter felt the water beneath his feet. One step, two steps.

But then he took his eyes off of Jesus and immediately went down. Just like we do when we start letting the wind and waves that scare us eclipse our faith.

You can read that account in Matthew 14:22-33. It’s important to note when Peter called out to the Lord, Jesus did not reprimand him, nor did he shame Peter.

Instead, Jesus immediately reached down, lifting him out of his predicament. Just like God does for us.

God's promise in Isaiah 41:10 tells us "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." 

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What does it mean to ‘fear not?’ Isaiah 41:10 Explained

What does it mean to ‘fear not?’ Isaiah 41:10 Explained

God knows us thoroughly. He knows when we get worried or become anxious. He knows we’re human. And yet, God gives us many reminders to fear not. To fear not means to trust God instead of believing our present situation is bigger than God is. God wants us to trust him. To trust that he will be enough, no matter what.

Matthew Henry's Commentary gives a wonderful, hope-filled explaination of Isaiah 41:10; "The scope of these verses is to silence the fears, and encourage the faith, of the servants of God in their distresses. Perhaps it is intended, in the first place, for the support of God’s Israel, in captivity; but all that faithfully serve God through patience and comfort of this scripture may have hope... That is a word of caution, counsel, and comfort, which is so often repeated, Fear thou not; and again (v. 13), Fear not; and (v. 14), "Fear not, thou worm Jacob; fear not the threatenings of the enemy, doubt not the promise of thy God; fear not that thou shalt perish in thy affliction or that the promise of thy deliverance shall fail.’’ It is against the mind of God that his people should be a timorous people. For the suppressing of fear he assures them, I am. That they may depend upon his presence with them as their God, and a God all-sufficient for them in the worst of times. Observe with what tenderness God speaks, and how willing he is to let the heirs of promise know the immutability of his counsel, and how desirous to make them easy: "Fear thou not, for I am with thee, not only within call, but present with thee; be not dismayed at the power of those that are against thee, for I am thy God, and engaged for thee. Art thou weak? I will strengthen thee. Art thou destitute of friends? I will help thee in the time of need. Art thou ready to sink, ready to fall? I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness...he will take us by the hand as our guide, to lead us in our way, will help us up when we are fallen or prevent our falls; when we are weak he will hold us up-wavering, he will fix us-trembling, he will encourage us, and so hold us by the right hand, Ps. 73:23. That he will silence their fears: Saying unto thee, Fear not. He has said it again and again in his word, and has there provided sovereign antidotes against fear: but he will go further; he will by his Spirit say it to their hearts, and make them to hear it, and so will help them."

Peter believed he would never let Jesus down. He saw himself as brave and totally sold out for the Lord. When Jesus told Peter in Matthew 26:34 that Peter would deny Him, Peter did not believe Jesus. Maybe someone else would fail, but surely not Peter.

Sadly, Peter found out Jesus was right. And when Peter heard the rooster crow, he wept bitterly. But did God leave Peter in his fear? No, he was everpresent. While Peter faced his fears and frailties, God ultimately equipped Peter to become a mighty witness.

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What is the difference between faith and fear?

What is the difference between faith and fear?

Faith believes without seeing the desired result (Hebrews 11:1)

Fear worries about how things will turn out, looking at the circumstances.

It is possible to have faith in God and still be fearful. You don’t doubt that God is able to work; but, you’re not certain what God will choose to do. We think about our circumstances and come up with an idea of how God could make things better. The problem is, we’re often wrong.

God’s ways are much higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). And if we could figure him out, then we’d be God.

When our granddaughter, Livie was born with Trisomy 18, I was very scared. All of us were. We knew if God chose, Livie would continue to live. After all, there were children with Trisomy 18 who did live a number of years. But we didn’t know what God had in mind.

Doctors told us Trisomy 18 was terminal, but they also told us she would probably die before her birth. Yet Livie smiled, laughed, did raspberries with her Daddy, and even moved her head to music, which her siblings told me was “head dancing.” I’ll never forget the day Livie learned to drink from a sippie cup. She gave us so much joy in the 14 months she lived. And those memories still make me smile.

It’s important to understand why God tells us to not be afraid. It’s not because what we are facing is easy. God tells us in the world we will have trials. It’s a certainty (John 16:33).

God tells us to fear not because he goes through the trials with us. He is there no matter what we’re facing (Psalm 46:1-3). But we need to dwell on God’s truths and his character.

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How to "fear not" - 7 ways to defeat fear with daily faith choices

How to "fear not" - 7 ways to defeat fear with daily faith choices

1. Remember God has promised he will never leave you(Deuteronomy 31:6). Satan wants us to feel as if God has left us all alone. But that’s not true. No matter what you will face, God is right there.

2. Remember God is never surprised by our circumstances. He is sovereign and knows everything. He even knows our future (Jeremiah 29:11).

3. Remember God can work your circumstances out for good, no matter how bleak they appear (Romans 8:28). Satan will try to convince you that your situation is the exception. But Satan is a liar. God said all things.

4. Stop asking, “Why did this happen?”when you are afraid, facing something that frightening. Instead, ask God, “Whatcan I learn from this?”

5. Remind yourself of all God has done for you. Be like David, who reminded himself of all God had done for him. Remember all the times God has been with you as you faced your giants.

6. Remind yourself God is bigger than whatever you fear.We are talking about almighty God. The creator of all things seen and unseen.

7. Visualize yourself placing whatever scares you into God’s hands.His large capable hands. Then take a deep breath and picture yourself walking away, because He’s got this.

God loves us. He’s always looking out for our good. Our Father wants what's best for his children. He tells us to fear not, because no matter how hard things get, they are not too difficult for him. Impossible situations are God’s specialty.

Accept the fact that we will go through difficult times. Read Isaiah 43:2, and take courage that we will walk through waters as we bury loved ones, and when the rivers of our finances seem to wash over us, or our fiery trials threaten to burn us, God’s promise is firm. He will be with us. In times of loneliness, or when we suffer physically, God will be with us.

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When you face your fears, fear not. God is with you. And that’s the truth.

When you face your fears, fear not. God is with you. And that’s the truth.

A policeman escorted me to an empty room to wait till it was my time to testify.

When it was my turn, I was to point to my sister’s husband, the one who had admitted he beat her. The last one to see her alive.

I also had to identify the people in the photos my sister had sent me over 30 years ago. My hands shook, my heart was racing. My mouth was as dry as cotton.

But as I waited for my turn, God reminded me of all the other times in my life when I was scared. And I remembered his promise, that He would be with me.

I sat there quietly praying and before I knew it, I started softly singing. Instead of picturing myself in that courtroom at 26th and California, in Chicago, I saw myself in God’s throne room, sitting on his lap, singing in his ear. When the officer returned to get me.

I went into that courtroom, but I wasn’t alone. God went with me.

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A prayer for facing your fear:

A prayer for facing your fear:

Father, I bring my fear before you. I know you are almighty. I know you are sovereign. But sometimes I’m still afraid. Father, please keep reminding me of all the wonderful things you have done for me. Remind me of all the times you were with me when life got hard. Thank you, God, for your constant love, even when I have doubts and fears. Thank you for your patience and your tender mercies that are new every morning. And Lord, thank you for your promise to be with me, always. I love you, Lord, and I pray this in your Son’s most Holy and precious name. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


cover of the book Broken, by Anne PetersonAnne Peterson is a regular contributor to Crosswalk. Anne is a poet, speaker, published author of 14 books, including her memoir, Broken: A story of abuse, survival, and hope. But Anne’s favorite titles are: mother and grandmother. Sign up for Anne’s newsletter at her website, www.annepeterson.comand receive a free eBook. Or connect on Facebook.

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