It’s easy for us to categorize Scripture to work for only one area of our lives. We say “my God shall supply all my needs” for paying our mortgage, but not for buying weekly groceries. We say “no plague shall come near our dwelling” when it comes to some exotic virus, but forget to apply it to the common flu. We say we’re “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” for dealing with a week’s worth of shift work, but not for energy to take care of our children. God, however, doesn’t categorize His Word like we do. Nothing is too hard for Him. He is just as capable of handling the big items as He is the small ones, and vice versa. He wants us to apply His Word – in faith – to every situation.
In my case, my lack of application was to “The List.” When I was pregnant, one of my theme verse was Isaiah 41:10: Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. God was faithful to honor His Word and assisted me every step of the way through my pregnancy. But nine months later, I forgot the Source of my help. I became busy with preparing for the holidays, planning two trips out of town, resolving computer issues, taking care of a baby, managing a home, staying involved in church, and striving to be a good wife. That list seemed to pile up all at once, to the point that I became abnormally stressed. I felt “The List” was never going to end, and I was doing it all by myself!
God, however, was seeing my strain and calmly holding up Isaiah 41:10. His help had not left me; I had simply left Isaiah 41:10 on the back shelf. I didn’t see God as caring about “The List.” It seemed “simple” enough for me to handle alone. Once again, I had forgotten another key verse: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
I was not acknowledging Him in the process of organization, which led to stress. That stress – that care – I didn’t cast on Him (I Peter 5:7). I carried it alone, simply because I did not trust Him with it.
I have since adjusted my thinking. I have decided to include God in my daily “list” by trusting in His ability to help me get it done. Surely, if He cares enough to keep track of every hair on my head (Luke 12:7), then He cares enough to assist me in getting gifts bought, hotel reservations booked, laundry done, and baby food made! Isaiah 41:10 is back on the list of theme verses!
Though God’s promise is clear, we have our part to play as well. God responds to faith. If trust in His ability to help us isn’t present, then His hands are tied. That’s why He exhorts us first in Isaiah 41:10. He knows we will need help to activate His help.
Fear Not . . . for I Am with You
Fear does not come from God; it comes from the devil (2 Timothy 1:7). Faith and fear cannot mix, and one cannot work while the other is present. With something as big as disease, or something as small as “The List,” we are told not to fear. We are not to fear that what we need to accomplish will go undone. Instead, we need to have confidence that through Him it will get finished – all of it.
The rest of that phrase in Isaiah 41:0 tells us why we are not to fear – “for I am with you.” God instructed us not to fear because He didn’t give that fear to us in the first place. But we’re also not to fear because He is with us. Why should we fear when the God and Creator of the Universe is right by our side? He loves us enough to be near . . . and to stay near.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (I John 4:18)
For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5a)
Be Not Dismayed . . . for I Am Your God
To be dismayed means to be distressed. This, too, doesn’t come from God because dismay involves stress instead of peace. God is nowhere near stress, but is full of peace and offers it freely. It is up to us to choose to shut off the nagging “dismay” and allow His peace to envelope our project.
This phrase is also followed by “for I am your God.” At one time, God was not our God. Because we did not belong to Him, we had no right to the covenant blessings He had promised to those who believe in Him. However, when we made God our God, He became our Father. That adoption into His family made us eligible to receive an inheritance that includes His assistance and His peace. While everyone else is crying out in stress, we have a reason to forgo dismay and trust in His “my God” status in our lives.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)
I Will Strengthen You
Once we choose to resist fear and dismay, God’s power kicks in. He has promised strength that goes beyond our own efforts to accomplish what He has called us to do. It’s not like a shot of caffeine that gives us energy but then drops us into a lethargic slump. It’s constant, always keeping us strong and energized to the very end and beyond.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. (Ephesians 6:10)
He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:29-31)
I Will Help You
God doesn’t just hand us His strength and then walk away, leaving us to figure out how to utilize that strength. He gets down in the middle of our project and helps us. He will show us what to do next. He will tell us what direction to go. He will tell us what choice is best. He will even place His hand and mind in ours, enabling us to successful get the job done.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 14:6)
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121 :2)
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)
I Will Uphold You
In the middle of our checklist, our mind and bodies may feel like we’re going to fail. But God, with that strength He promised, will hold us up. He will cause us to stand upright, even when we’re tempted to get frustrated at interruptions that threaten our productivity. Gratefully, it’s not our own stature and wit that enables us to successfully finish “The List.” It’s His “righteous right hand” that makes our feet stand strong and our head to stay above the challenge.
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy . . . (Jude 1:24)
My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me. (Psalm 63:8)
With so many promises, we should never doubt our ability to accomplish “The List.” It should never intimidate us to look it square in the eye with a smile as we check off each task one by one. We’ve got the greatest Help in the universe as our guide. If we are accomplishing His will, we can expect His grace because it’s not just our “list” anymore. It’s His list.
The Lord will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you. (Deuteronomy 28:8)