Saturday, October 8, 2022

Strengthen, Help, Uphold

During various trials I have experienced recently, including storms, illness and injury, God has spoken to my heart through Isaiah 41:10: Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

It is amazing how often this verse, which was not particularly familiar to me before, has appeared so often recently, typically in clusters, as a sermon text, part of a daily devotional, verse of the day, or even a group email or Facebook post. These reminders of God’s faithfulness come at the darkest hour of the storm, just when I need them most.

It begins with the exhortation to fear not, which in various forms occurs in the Bible 365 times, one for each day of the year. Often it is God Himself or an angel sent by God who begins their message with this encouragement (Genesis 15:1; 21:17; 26:24; Luke 1:13, 30, etc.), for we are all sinners who have reason to fear God’s judgment (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Even in this evil world, we have many earthly reasons to fear, yet none at all, for our Lord Jesus Christ has won the victory over sin, death, the devil, and hell itself through His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, 57; Matthew 16:18).

If God is with us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31). No human, physical, demonic or other power or being can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:35-39) or pluck us from the hand of Jesus, which is held tight in the hand of the Father (John 10:28-29) and sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30). We need not fear, for He is with us, and He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

No matter how desperate, discouraging, or diabolical circumstances may seem, we are not to be dismayed, for He is our God, our Abba Father through adoption (Romans 8:15) once we are born again (John 3:3-8). Jesus Christ is also our Lord, Master (John 13:13), Savior (Isaiah 43:3, 11; Luke 2:11), Bridegroom (Matthew 25; Mark 2:19), Advocate (1 John 2:1), and High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16), and the Holy Spirit is our Comforter, Guide and Teacher (John 14:16, 26; 15:26). With such all-powerful connections, what reason can we possibly have to be dismayed?

As the apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.  
In other words, we can be reassured as we endure trials that our body, soul and spirit are mirroring the suffering, betrayal and even death of Jesus, Who endured all these for our sake, that we may experience eternal life through Him.

In troubling situations, we need not fear, for He is with us, He is our God, and He will strengthen us. God is all-powerful (Revelation 4:8), and we cannot even take our next breath unless He wills it (John 15:5), yet His strength is made perfect in our weakness. When we are weak, we are therefore strong, giving us reason to glory in our frailties and afflictions, for He will be glorified by empowering us (2 Corinthians 12:9).

But He does not strengthen us so that we can go it alone, for He promises to help us! It reminds me of an experience I had during my second week as a medical intern. Exhausted, sleep-deprived, and challenged beyond my abilities, knowledge and experience at that time, I was in the last hours of night call when two critically ill patients were admitted to my service and two others developed life-threatening emergencies.

I knew I couldn’t begin to handle these challenges on my own and felt overwhelmed and ready to give up, when suddenly the chief resident appeared. Normally the chief resident on call, who was responsible for all the medical wards, would merely stop by to offer a few quick words of advice, but this extremely knowledgeable, capable, and experienced physician stayed with me until all the problems were under control, not only giving counsel but pitching in with blood drawing, spinal taps and other needed procedures.

And he did it all with kindness, compassion, and grace, never once making me feel inadequate or lording his authority over me, actually taking the time for some encouraging words and even a cup of coffee! So if my spirits could be lifted immensely by the help of one in authority, how can I not be encouraged by the help of God Almighty, Who has all power, resources (Psalm 50:10) and wisdom (Psalm 139:6) to achieve the best outcome? 
He loves me infinitely (1 John 4:8; John 3:16) and will provide for my needs before I even ask Him (Matthew 6:8).

Not only does God promise to strengthen and help His children, but He has promised to uphold us! Others may criticize, attack and condemn us, but God will uphold us with the right hand of His righteousness! Although I have sinned, and some of the trials I face may be consequences of or chastisement for my sins (Hebrews 12:5-9), God no longer remembers or sees my sin (Psalm 103:12). Instead, He sees me as clothed in the robe of righteousness imparted by His Son (Isaiah 61:10), Who knew no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21).

The morning after the night on call described above, the attending physician questioned medical decisions I had made and possible errors of omission. To my surprise and gratitude, the chief resident who had rescued me and the patients under my care took full responsibility for all that had been done and left undone, even though he could have easily and justifiably blamed me.

On a much grander scale, Jesus Christ, Son of God, the sacrificial Lamb (John 1:29) Who knew no sin, took upon Himself the burden of all our sins, past, present and future, and paid for those sins with every drop of His shed blood, so that sinful man could be reconciled to Holy God (Romans 3:25). Now we can stand without shame In God’s holy presence, for He Himself upholds us with the right hand of His righteousness!

Praise God that we have no reason for fear or dismay, for our Savior is with us and strengthens, helps, and upholds us with the right hand of His righteousness! 

© 2018 Laurie Collett
Reposted from the archives 


Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie
Your blog is on the same theme as the sermon we listened to this morning, namely, how much each of the three Persons of the Trinity loves each other - a love from eternity past and love into the eternity future. And at present, a love from the Almighty Trinity towards us, who was created specifically to receive this love and to love Him and our fellow humans and all Creation.
What a pity that the entry of sin into the world has spoiled all that.
But thanks be to God for his imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ given to everyone who believes. And as you say, because Jesus Christ had never sinned whilst he was here, we too can never lose our salvation.
Blessings to you and Richard.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
I love it when God sends us the same message, albeit in different formats or from different messengers, at the same time, as if to emphasize His point!
it is difficult for me to wrap my head around the concept of God's infinite love. And yet, a practical consequence of that infinite love is that He couldn't love us any more, so we don't need to work to earn His love, and He couldn't love us any less, so we don't need to fear that He will love us less if we disappoint Him.
Even the entry of sin cannot keep us from the love of God, but it does limit our ability to love one another.
Praise to our Lord Jesus Christ for the righteousness he imputes to those who believe in Him!
May God bless you and Alex,

Brenda said...

Laurie, this is a truly beautiful post you have put up that will encourage all with the scriptures you have shared, and your experiences in Christ Jesus. I go through exactly the same trials, and at the moment my husband is going through one too with his health. We must always encourage one another with what we are experiencing for, as we know, FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. God bless you Laurie for sharing what you was meant to share.

Laurie Collett said...

Thank you, Brenda, for your words of encouragement, and for sharing your experience. Prayers for you and for your husband's health. Praise God that He is always faithful, even in our trials, and that He works all things together for good.
God bless you,

Brenda said...

Thank you for your prayers Laurie. God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Brenda,
You are most welcome. I like your anagram for FEAR a lot better than the one I have heard: Flee Everything And Run!" God bless.