When I was a kid we had a landline phone and an answer phone that took messages when we were out. We recorded an outgoing message that was played to the caller on the other end that said something like; “I’m afraid we can’t get to the phone right now but please leave a message after the beep…..” I remember clearly my dear Grandma phoning up and leaving a message, possibly more than once, telling us that we should not be afraid because God is with us. Even when we can’t answer the phone 😉
Life is always giving us opportunities to be anxious isn’t it? Fear, at its basic level, is actually an important human response that is designed to keep us safe from danger. Take for example a fear of heights – it can become crippling and inhibiting for people but at its root it’s actually a good thing – your brain’s way of telling you to be careful when you are high up because if you fall down you will hurt yourself. Fear is normal. Fear can be helpful but when our response to fear is out of proportion due to a previous experience or through learned behaviour it can control us and cause us to miss out on living life to the full. Taken to extremes it can become irrational and utterly debilitating.
I’ve never been a particularly anxious person. I think I was a cautious child – not especially daring but my parents taught me about the sovereignty of God and when you believe in a good God who is in control of your life, and when you believe death is not the end, then fear is only a temporary thing. Having said that I am a human and so I will do my best to avoid getting hurt, maybe make choices that don’t intentionally set me up to fail and try to plan as best I can to stop the unknown from surprising me in an unpleasant manner. Pahahah I sound super brave don’t I?! Personally I find change can be difficult because it involves stepping out of my comfortable known place into the next thing which is new and un-known. Some people love this – some strange people find the adventure exilerating. Others of us less so.
Jacob is around 130 years old when his sons return from Egypt with news that Joseph is alive. The request that he leave his home and move to this foreign land must have surely been accompanied by some anxiety. Where would they live? Would they be welcome? What about all his herds and flocks? He has a family of 70 people to think about – would they be safe in this un-known land with it’s different customs and systems? What about Joseph?? I can imagine Jacob trying to process this all, tossing and turning in his bed at night. But then God speaks;
And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, ‘Jacob! Jacob!’
‘Here I am,’ he replied.
‘I am God, the God of your father,’ he said. ‘Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.’
Nothing is unknown to God. Nothing is dangerous for Him. There is no possible future, there is no location, there is no outcome where He is not God and He is not good. And when He speaks light shines in the darkness. When His perfect love touches our hearts fear must leave. All of the uncertainty and anxiety that Jacob must have been carrying disolves as God tells Him “I’ve got this and I’ve got you.” What a comfort when we face a new season or an unknow chapter or even just a little step out of comfort zone – He is God and He is with us!
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7
I always say we have an unfair advantage – we don’t have to do this on our own. We can take our anxiety and give it to Him. We can exchange our fear for His supernatural peace that passes understanding. Just like Jacob God’s got this and God’s got you! Praying for those of you facing fear, stepping out into new things and confronting uncertanty today – may you know His voice, His peace and His unchanging goodness. Thanks for reading, Much love Rach x