There are approximately fourteen verses in the Scriptures that are closely related to a certain one amongst these fourteen, Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” All of them give us the promise of the Lord that wherever we go, He goes with us, but there is as there almost always is in the Word of God a caveat, we must go where He leads, and although He will not cast us aside or forsake us if we do not, the course of action that we may have planned will most likely not go the way in which we thought it would if we do not follow.
These verses, if you think about it, are for who? Those who are afraid, those who have entered into a circumstance in their lives that has caused them to be afraid that there are probably going to be dire consequences and that they are more than likely unavoidable. Look at all the times in the Scriptures where people sought refuge in the Lord because of fear, and were told to “Fear not,” it is an incredible number. Why is it then that we seem to have this continuing difficulty throughout the ages of man with fear, and just exactly what type of fears are we speaking of that seem to continuously reoccur with every single generation?
Let’s name just a few here so we have in a sense a sort of reference to go by; fear of change, fear of loss, fear of being unable to, fear of having to, fear of illness, and of course the last would be fear of death. This is of course in no way the complete list, not even close, because if there is one thing that our adversary loves to see in the called of God, it is fear, it delights him to no end because it hinders all possible forward movement, at least any movement with confidence. We have all the promises of the Scriptures, words from God himself over and over telling us not to fear, so of course what do we do when the path of life is altered even for a few moments, we fear. The unknown is upon us and what are we to do. Well, I know what I am not supposed to do, I am not supposed to fear.
We are expected to not be dismayed, to be strong and of good courage, we are supposed to cast all our cares upon Him, we are even confident in Romans 8:28, and quote it often, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” And then something completely unexpected happens, something that we were not prepared for, and what do we do, do we quote any of these verses in confidence and then march forward into the unknown in complete faith in the Lord, not usually, most often we fear. What if I lose my job, what if she ends up dying, what are we to do now that this has happened. One of the most famous words that the Christian says in these times is “why,” why is God allowing this to happen to me, and this is almost always followed by the thoughts that we fear the most to express outside of ourselves, I do not trust Christ in this moment.
People who trust do not fear, people who have faith do not fear, it is as plain and simple as that, there are no other alternatives, and yet we do. Why did nearly every angel when they presented themselves to humans say the same thing, “Fear not,” well, because those people were afraid of course, someone that did not look like they looked had just appeared out of nowhere in front of them and it scared them. When something out of the ordinary occurs to us, something that either involves an immediate or possible future change from the normal, we become afraid, we fear. If your income suddenly ceases to come into the household and you have no savings to speak of, are you going to praise God and anxiously look forward to what He has planned for this next stage of your life, probably not, you are going to fear the future and what you do not know it holds for you.
How far down the path of faith do you believe Paul was when he wrote, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21) How many instances are required for the Lord to give you to trust and fear not before you will be able to express these same words and truly mean them. It is one thing to proclaim the verse that promise us that He will never leave us or forsake us when we are all gathered around the table during the holidays, it is quite another when the circumstances of life are dire and right in your face, when that moment of doubt begins to creep in. We can be so good at quoting certain verses and utterly terrible at living them out.
Am I starting to sound a little pious here, does it sound like I have a “holier-than-thou attitude,” that this humble writer of letters has got it all figured out and that fear never enters into his life anymore? Not even close, I am sorry to say, but I can say with a confidence that only the Holy Spirit of God can place within a man that for me to live is Christ, and to die will be gain for me, and how do I know this for a fact, well that one is easy, because He has shown Himself to be faithful and true, and I trust in His promises. If you do not fall into this category yet, then the question is just as simple, why not? Here is where you get to fill in the blank my friends.
Trust must be earned, it does not matter if it is with another human being or with the Lord our God, He knows this very well, better than you might like to think. Why do you think that Malachi 3:10 is in the Word of God, do you really believe that this verse only relates to money? It is there to show us that He who has promised is trustworthy, along with hundreds of other verses. Try this one on for size my friends, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Heb. 11:6) There are far too many Christians that think this verse is intended only for those who initially come to Christ, when they first come to the cross for the salvation of their souls, and not for what its complete intentions are for, the children of God, that we are to continually seek Him in every area of our lives. Now why would we seek someone that we do not trust, why would we continue to follow someone that we have no faith in, and if you do have this faith, then why would we not trust completely? Again, quite simple, because we still fear at times, our faith is not absolute in His promises. Sad, but true. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jer. 29:11) Our expected end is one of total trust.
It’s a hard walk my brothers and sisters in Christ, I know, I am going thru it also, to trust completely, no matter the circumstances. We want as much as possible to know at least the immediate future, to be able to set plans for it, yet even to trust in His provisions for the day as He has promised, to rely upon Him continuously, to trust and have faith without question, at this we fail every day. It is so easy to repeat the verses, it can be so difficult to follow and believe in them.
I personally do not believe that our Lord places before us any test that we have already accomplished, there are no remedial courses for the Christian, and each new occurrence of His will in our lives brings with it the possibility of fear. And I also do not think that He works incrementally, as it were, little test to bigger tests and trials, that is not the way of faith. Those who come to Him must believe that He is, this is not only the basis of faith, but the totality of it, once we believe that He is, it is then our responsibility to learn and know all there is about Him, not to be fearful of what He may bring into our lives. The trust that obeys is the trust that serves, and those who serve have faith in the One that they are serving, but fear is what keeps us from that faith of serving rightly.
If you want all fear to flee from your lives then you must believe that He never will leave you or forsake you, you cannot just say these words of promise and hope in them, they must be a part of who you truly are down deep inside, no question at all about it. Faith is trust, trust is believing, what you need to ask yourself in this matter is how much and how often does He need to prove Himself to you before you will finally trust in Him completely. When will you be able to say with all confidence “To live is Christ, to die is gain?” Personally, for me, I hope it is long before that moment of death arrives.