- Exodus 33:14 CSB
And he replied, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
- Psalm 4:8 CSB
I will both lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, Lord, make me live in safety.
- Psalm 46:10 NASB
Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
- Psalm 62:1 CSB
I am at rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from him.
- Psalm 62:5 CSB
Rest in God alone, my soul,
for my hope comes from him.
- Psalm 73:26 CSB
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart,
my portion forever.
- Psalm 116:7 CSB
Return to your rest, my soul,
for the Lord has been good to you.
- Psalm 119:28 CSB
I am weary from grief;
strengthen me through your word.
- Psalm 127:1-2 CSB
Unless the Lord builds a house,
its builders labor over it in vain;
unless the Lord watches over a city,
the watchman stays alert in vain.
2 In vain you get up early and stay up late,
working hard to have enough food—
yes, he gives sleep to the one he loves
- Psalm 138:3 CSB
On the day I called, you answered me;
you increased strength within me
- Proverbs 3:24 CSB
When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
you will lie down, and your sleep will be pleasant.
- Isaiah 40:28-31 CSB
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the whole earth.
He never becomes faint or weary;
there is no limit to his understanding.
29 He gives strength to the faint
and strengthens the powerless.
30 Youths may become faint and weary,
and young men stumble and fall,
31 but those who trust in the Lord
will renew their strength;
they will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not become weary,
they will walk and not faint.
- Isaiah 41:10 CSB
Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you; I will help you;
I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.
- Isaiah 50:4 CSB
The Lord God has given me
the tongue of those who are instructed
to know how to sustain the weary with a word.
He awakens me each morning;
he awakens my ear to listen like those being instructed.
- Jeremiah 31:25 NASB
For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes.”
- Matthew 11:28-30 NASB
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
- Luke 18:1 NASB
Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart
- John 16:33 NASB
These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
- 2 Corinthians 4:16 CSB
Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day.
- 2 Corinthians 12:9 CSB
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.”
Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.
- Galatians 6:9 CSB
Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.
- Philippians 4:13 NASB
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
- 2 Thessalonians 3:13 CSB
But as for you, brothers and sisters, do not grow weary in doing good.
- Hebrews 12:3 CSB
For consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, so that you won’t grow weary and give
- Exodus 14:13
And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again (ESV)
- Deuteronomy 31:
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
- Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened,and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
- Nehemiah 4:14
After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”
- Psalm 23:4
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
- Psalm 27:1
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
- Psalm 34:4
“I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”
- Psalm 56:3
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
- Psalm 56:4
In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
- Psalm 91:4-6
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
- Psalm 112:7
He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.
- Isaiah 35:4Say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, and do not fear,
for your God is coming to destroy your enemies.
He is coming to save you.”
- Isaiah 41:10
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.
- Isaiah 41:13
“For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
- Isaiah 44:8
Fear not, nor be afraid;
have I not told you from of old and declared it?
And you are my witnesses!
Is there a God besides me?
There is no Rock; I know not any.”
- Isaiah 51:12
“I, I am he who comforts you;
who are you that you are afraid of man who dies,
of the son of man who is made like grass,
- Jeremiah 1:8
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord.”
- Zephaniah 3:17
For the LORD your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.[a]
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
- Matthew 6:34
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
- Matthew 10:31
Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
- Mark 5:36
But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” (ESV)
- Luke 1:74-75
We have been rescued from our enemies
so we can serve God without fear,
in holiness and righteousness
for as long as we live.
- Luke 12:32
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
- John 6:19-20
They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified, 20 but he called out to them,“Don’t be afraid. I am here!”
- John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
- Acts 18:9
And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent,
- Romans 8:38
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
- 2 Timothy 1:7
for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
- Hebrews 13:6
So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
- 1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
The high school band awards banquet was a little different this year, just like all of our end-of-the-year celebrations. We’ve had drive-through graduations and drive-through kindergarten completion ceremonies, kindergarten dance parties over Zoom, and awards announced on YouTube.
On band banquet night, instead of being with the band or being at a banquet, I rushed home from another meeting to pull up YouTube and watch on my laptop while I folded laundry in my living room.
My daughter’s band director wore his normal suit and tie while announcing well-deserved awards and identifying next year’s leaders, keeping as many things normal for them as he possibly could.
Then he said the oh-so-familiar words:
I don’t know.
I don’t know what marching band season will look like next year or if we’ll even have one, but the best thing we can do is to prepare as if it will be a normal year.
I’m a choral director and I’m in the middle of planning Christmas music, but everything I say begins like this: I don’t know what it will be like, but….
I’m a mom with four kids who are all anxious about the fall. Two of my children are leveling up to new schools they’ve never attended before, so that’s extra-new and extra-anxiety-producing for them. They ask me about schedules and classes and extracurricular activities and I have to say it every single day right now: I don’t know how it will be next year….
I’m a church leader trying to minister and plan who just keeps saying the same thing at meetings, “I don’t know whether this will work or not, but….”
I. Don’t. Know.
It’s been a deeply humbling season of uncertainty and dependency. I can’t know so I can’t plan and I can’t rely on those plans.
It’s every week and every day waking up to handle just this moment, this need, this task ,this decision, this day’s reality, and then being content at the end of the day with just making it through today and moving on to tomorrow.
The truth is, if I think too much about a month from now or three months from now, I’m overcome—just washed over by a wave of anxiety in an ocean of panic and sorrow about all the loss and all the change.
Stormie O’Martian wrote a book called Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On and I’ve been thinking about that step-by-step life of trust. I have to lean into Jesus so I can see the step He’s lighting for me. No rushing ahead or stumbling ahead or falling dangerously ahead of the light He gives.
One. Step. At. A. Time.
And that’s enough.
In 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat faced a multitude of armies threatening his kingdom all at once. He didn’t have just one enemy to fight. The Moabites and the Edomites and the Meunites had all gathered for battle against him.
He was afraid.
Of course, he was afraid. God knows it’s so easy for us to all be afraid of these enemies amassing against us.
He didn’t cower, though, nor did he rush in to save the day with his own strength, with battle strategies or soldier recruitment plans, or the counsel of his generals.
Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord (2 Chronicles 20:3-4).
He prayed. He fasted. He asked others to pray and fast with him. He earnestly sought the Lord.
He said the very words and prayed the very prayer that I have been returning to since March:
…For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 2 Chronicles 20:12 ESV
I truly am so powerless in this. I am not in charge of what school will look like in the fall or the rule about gatherings or whether there is meat and toilet paper in the store on the day I happen to shop.
We are powerless and we do not know what to do, Lord, but our eyes are on you.
My eyes keep wanting to shift their focus. They are wayward. I look at the problems, at the world, at the news, at the numbers, at the Governor’s announcements, and at the Facebook and Instagram drama.
Fix my eyes, my heart, my mind on you alone, Jesus. In the moments when I do not know what to do (and there are so many, Lord), help me look to you and you alone.
Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.
Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.
- Psalm 34:1
[ Psalm 34 ] [ The Lord Delivers the Righteous ] [ Concerning David, when he pretended to be insane in the presence of Abimelech, who drove him out, and he departed. ]
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.
- Psalm 71:14
But I will hope continually and will praise you more and more.
How happy are those who reside in your house, who praise you continually. Selah
- Psalm 119:20
I am continually overcome with longing for your judgments.
But you must return to your God. Maintain love and justice, and always put your hope in God.
[ The Parable of the Persistent Widow ] Now he told them a parable on the need for them to pray always and not give up.
giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:17
Therefore, through him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.
I have fretted this year.
Oh, how I have fretted.
I lost sleep in January and again in February because I was worrying over planning events, over getting enough volunteers, over whether we should hold our huge church egg hunt on this particular Saturday or on the Sunday before?
I wrestled with calendars. I made a plan, had a meeting with someone that changed my mind, contemplated the plan some more, sought counsel from others, stuck with the original plan—and second-guessed myself the whole time.
I stressed about our soccer schedule. I stressed over how to get my kids to soccer, an orientation night at the high school, and to a math competition all at the same time in different parts of our county.
I worried about events and trips my kids and I were looking forward to. How would we pay for everything and how was the schedule going to work out? We had trips to Disney, Boston, Italy, and Montana all in the works. They were all good things—all incredibly wonderful opportunities.
Still I worried. About plane tickets and getting to the airport and renewing my passport and everything about traveling that stresses me out (which is everything).
None of these things are actually happening.
I invested so many hours and lost so much sleep worrying over things that have now been canceled or altered beyond recognition.
There’s no soccer season. There was no math bowl or area chorus or countywide music concert. There is no trip to Disney or Italy or Boston.
We didn’t hold our egg hunt on the Saturday or the Sunday. It was completely new and different and not like anything I imagined when I started planning in January.
Maybe it sounds like I’m a never-ending tangle of angst over here, and it’s true that I’m definitely not a happy-go-lucky whatever-may-come kind of person.
I’m a super-planner.
And super-planners like to have plans and to follow plans and not to deviate from plans.
Still, over the years God has stretched me and lovingly nudged me into spiritual growth and new levels of trust and dependence on Him. I’ve seen the progress. I’m not as bad as I used to be.
But sitting here in the middle of coronavirus quarantine, feeling unsure of when we’re allowed out of our houses much less when we can go back to work, school, and church, makes me feel oh-so-tempted to tumble back into the pit of fretting.
There are too many things unplanned. Too many things I can’t possibly plan. I have far more questions than I do answers. Maybe I don’t even feel like answers exist right now.
But whenever I’m tempted to start fretting over this mess, I remember this:
In January and February, I spent hours and hours worrying about the date of an egg hunt that DIDN’T HAPPEN.
See where that got me?
I worried so much then about making the perfect decision and not picking the wrong day to hold an egg hunt. It turns out, no decision even mattered. Only God had the full knowledge of what was to come. Only He had the big perspective.
I read this today in Proverbs:
Anxiety in a person’s heart weighs it down,
but a good word cheers it up (Proverbs 12:25 CSB).
Weighed down by worry. Yes.
I have pulled that two-ton weight of worry behind me, dragging it along, letting it steal the joy in this moment because I’m fretting over the moments to come.
Jesus told us how pointless that is:
And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? (Matthew 6:27 NASB).
I am tempted to worry every single time I scroll Facebook, listen to a news conference, and examine a line graph right now. So, I’m in this place of continually challenging my thoughts and continually catching that worry and dismissing it.
I ask myself the question, “Where has any of your worrying gotten you so far this year?”
What has been a blessing this year?
This: Seeing how God has helped us with unexpected answers to completely unanticipated problems.
Our egg hunt reached so many kids this year and it was delivered to their homes rather than held at one time in the lawn on our church property. God did a new thing and He did it perfectly.
I feel like I’m one-minute away from fretting at all times around here right now. And yet, I’m also one minute away from a completely different choice:
I can sit back and watch what God will do.
Take a breath.
- 1 Kings 19:11-12 ESV
And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.
- Job 38:1 ESV
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind…
- Psalm 55:8 ESV
I would hurry to find a shelter
from the raging wind and tempest.
- Psalm 107:25 ESV
For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
which lifted up the waves of the sea.
- Psalm 107:29 ESV
He made the storm be still,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.
- Proverbs 10:25 ESV
When the tempest passes, the wicked is no more,
but the righteous is established forever.
- Isaiah 4:6 ESV
It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.
- Isaiah 25:4 ESV
For you have been a stronghold to the poor,
a stronghold to the needy in his distress,
a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat;
for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall,
- Isaiah 29:6 ESV
you will be visited by the Lord of hosts
with thunder and with earthquake and great noise,
with whirlwind and tempest, and the flame of a devouring fire.
- Isaiah 32:1-2 ESV
Behold, a king will reign in righteousness,
and princes will rule in justice.
2 Each will be like a hiding place from the wind,
a shelter from the storm,
like streams of water in a dry place,
like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.
- Isaiah 43:1-2 ESV
But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
- Isaiah 54:11 NLT
O storm-battered city,
troubled and desolate!
I will rebuild you with precious jewels
and make your foundations from lapis lazuli.
- Nahum 1:3 ESV
The Lord is slow to anger and great in power,
and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty.
His way is in whirlwind and storm,
and the clouds are the dust of his feet.
- Zechariah 10:1 ESV
Ask rain from the Lord
in the season of the spring rain,
from the Lord who makes the storm clouds,
and he will give them showers of rain,
to everyone the vegetation in the field
- Matthew 7:24-27 ESV
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
- Matthew 8:26 ESV
And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.
- Mark 4:39 ESV
And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
- Luke 8:24 ESV
And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm.
- Hebrews 12:18-19 ESV
For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them.
- James 1:6 ESV
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
Last summer, my girls arrived home from camp exhausted and carrying loads of dirty laundry packed into their overnight bags. They needed some post-camp rest and recovery time at home while I started in on the loads of laundry.
They came home a few days after July 4th, but a nearby community had saved their fireworks display for that weekend so I gave my girls the option: Come with us to the fireworks that night or stay home and rest while we go. (Hurray for having teenagers old enough to stay home on their own and babysit when needed!).
So, off we went to the celebration while they hung out in their rooms in the comfort of their own home.
A few minutes into our fireworks display, though, my daughter called me, sounding terrified: There were strange “squeaking” noises outside in the yard.
I coached her through some possible scenarios and made sure she didn’t hear anyone at the door or in the house. They didn’t sound in danger, so I suggested maybe something was making that sound in our neighbor’s yard. Could they just peek outside the window or a door and see what the noise was?
No way! She and her sister were staying as far away from windows and doors as possible.
In fact, they had hidden themselves away, locking the bedroom door and hunkering down in a closet. My one girl had grabbed her bo staff from her karate classes. My other daughter was weaponless, so she grabbed a hobby horse from her brother’s closet, figuring (I guess) that it was part stick and could therefore be weaponized.
I messaged my neighbors, and kept in contact with my girls while we drove home. Then I finally tracked down the source of the “squeaking.” One of our neighbors had set off some backyard fireworks that night, including some that screamed and squealed when lit. Mystery solved.
But my daughters still felt a little shaken. The karate bo staff didn’t make it back into the closet for a few days. I took the time to review the emergency phone numbers we kept by the phone and how to call our neighbors for help if they ever needed it.
Looking back, of course, we could all have a good laugh. A neighbor sets off some fireworks and my kids lock themselves in closets with sticks.
Still, I get fear. I get what it’s like to hide away, to cry out for help, and to grab frantically for defense when I feel trapped or attacked. I get how fear paralyzes and how it backs you into a corner.
In the book of Mark, I read about how the disciples scattered in terror when Judas betrayed Jesus. The Roman soldiers marched into the garden where Jesus was praying and they marched out again with Jesus as their prisoner.
Then they all deserted him and ran away (Mark 14:50 CSB).
Unlike most of the others, Peter had enough courage to linger nearby. He “followed him at a distance, right into the high priest’s courtyard” (Mark 14:54 CSB).
How brave would I have been? Would I have scattered? Would I have followed at a distance? Would I have stormed into the trial and tried to defend Jesus or instead hunched by the fire so that no one knew I was his follower?
Would I have denied Jesus as Peter did that night, three times pretending not to know Jesus when people asked?
I think perhaps Peter was braver and more courageous than I could have been. He loved Jesus enough to follow that mob of soldiers and stayed nearby even thought he risked being caught himself.
The notes in my Bible say this about Peter, though:
…as with many believers, he allowed his human fears to overcome his spiritual resources, which were available to give him strength for the difficult times.
My girls heard a scary, unidentifiable noise and they reached for every resource they had available: a phone call to mom, a lock on a bedroom door, and some big sticks (including a hobby horse).
What do I grab for when I’m afraid?
God has equipped us with these spiritual resources: HIS Word, HIS Character, HIS Strength, HIS Promises, HIS Spirit, HIS fruit.
May I never allow my human fears to overcome all that God gives me. May I learn to rely on who God is, on His great love, and on His might and His mercy instead of any human strength (weak as it is) I can muster on my own.
As the Psalmist said:
When I am afraid,
I will trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me? (Psalm 56:3-4 CSB).
I bought the gift online and the box arrived on my porch yesterday.
It was quite a large box , much larger than I expected. I couldn’t imagine what could possibly be inside since nothing I’d ordered would be that bulky.
I dropped the load I had in my hands inside the front door and hauled the package inside, cutting it open quickly with scissors. That’s when I found the surprise.
My son has two things topping his Christmas wish list: Lego sets and dinosaur toys. So, when this particular T-Rex toy went on super-sale on Black Friday online, I snatched it up, knowing he’d love it. The T-Rex is his favorite dinosaur and he always loves this brand o f toys. I expected it to be a few inches tall like all the other toys we have by this same toymaker.
But this was beyond all expectation. This T-Rex stands at least 5 times larger than all the other action figures and is so big that he can “eat” the other toys and swallow them down into his expansive belly.
My son is going to love this.
I would never, ever have bought this toy knowingly, but this accident and this surprise will probably be the hit of his Christmas morning. I can’t wait.
Sometimes it can be so hard to “work up” anticipation, expectation and joy during the Advent season. Calendars bog us down. “Must-do’s” and “have-to’s” can stifle our spirit. Grief and even just disappointment at how the year turned out can weary us.
I need the reminder (maybe others do also?) about the unexpectedness of God. How He breaks down the boxes we cram Him into. We package Him up, and He surprises us. He is bigger and grander and far more unexpected than our wildest expectations.
I think I know how situations will unfold and sometimes I settle into thinking that “this will never change.” I see the problem. I see the complications. I see the mess.
I want to see Him, who is able to do more and to do it in the most wildly creative way. I cannot trust in my plans or my solutions and fixes, but I can trust in our Mighty God.
I remember Paul’s song of praise in Ephesians:
Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us— to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21 CSB).
God is the defier expectations. He is our Above-and-Beyond God.
In my Advent devotional this week, the readings began in Genesis, telling why we need a Savior, how because of our sin we needed a Rescuer and Deliverer who could restore our relationship with God.
And Adam and Eve knew this. They heard God’s curse on the serpent:
I will put hostility between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring.
He will strike your head,
and you will strike his heel (Genesis 3:15 CSB).
They knew that Another—a Deliverer—would come to defeat the serpent once and for all.
But what would this look like? How would the Deliverer come? How long would they have to wait?
Surely they could not have imagined as they headed out of the Garden of Eden how Jesus would come, how He would be born, how His rescue would come through His perfect life and sacrificial death. Surely they could not have known the long line of generations who would wait for the coming of the Messiah.
My devotional reading says this:
“Scholar James Boice says Adam and Eve likely thought Cain was the deliverer who would defeat the serpent that God promised in Genesis 3:15. It’s even reflected in the name they gave him…In view of the promise of a deliverer, [Cain’s] name probably means, ‘Here he is’ or ‘I’ve gotten him.’ Eve called her son ‘Here he is’ because she thought the deliverer had been sent by God.” (Advent, Lifeway Women, p. 14)
In Genesis 3, God says there will be a Deliverer. In Genesis 4, Eve is pregnant and gives birth to Cain, the first human baby ever.
Maybe Adam and Eve truly thought this baby was the one who would rescue and restore them. Cain would be the promised one.
They could have grown disappointed and discouraged with Cain’s failure and how nothing turned out the way they expected.
Still, God had a plan they could never have imagined, the perfect Savior who would come at the perfect time:
When the time came to completion, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons (Galatians 4:4-5 CSB).
- Psalm 25:4-5 ESV
Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.
- Psalm 27:13-14
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
- Psalm 33:20-22
We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, LORD, even as we put our hope in you.
- Psalm 37:7 ESV
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!
- Psalm 37:9 ESV
For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.
- Psalm 40:1-3 ESV
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.
- Psalm 62:5 ESV
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
- Psalm 130:5-6 NIV
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
- Isaiah 30:18 ESV
Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him.
- Isaiah 40:29-31 HCSB
He gives strength to the weary
and strengthens the powerless.
Youths may faint and grow weary,
and young men stumble and fall,
but those who trust in the Lord
will renew their strength;
they will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary;
they will walk and not faint.
- Isaiah 64:4 NIV
Since ancient times no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
- Lamentations 3:25 ESV
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
- Micah 7:7 NIV
But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord,
I wait for God my Savior;
my God will hear me.
- James 5:7-8 HCSB
Therefore, brothers, be patient until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth and is patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, because the Lord’s coming is near.
At the amusement park, after we’ve parked the minivan and handed over our passes to be scanned and our bags to be checked, we head for the measuring station .
Only one of my kids still needs to be measured. My girls have long since passed the point where they can ride anything in the park because of their height.
My son, though, is still tracking his growth progress through wrist band colors. Each color tells him what he can ride based on how tall he is.
Somehow between the start of summer to the early fall, he shot up through three different colors on the ride chart. That means technically he can ride his first big roller coaster.
This is thrilling to him. He announces to each member of the family what color he’s on now.
But when I ask him if he really wants to ride any of the bigger rides—any of them at all—-he says, “I’ll do that when I’m 7.”
He’s taller than he is brave.
I remind him that the colors don’t really matter if we’re not going to ride any of the higher, faster rides, but he’s thrilled just the same. He celebrates physical growth and that’s enough for him.
Not all of my kids have been like this, but most of them have (three out of the four). We are timid about these things, more likely to enjoy the small swings, the bumper cars and the kiddie roller coaster long after others have moved on to bigger thrills.
We’re not born brave. We’re not naturally bold. Courage isn’t part of our DNA.
(I’m still not a thrill-seeker. At almost 40 years old, I’d rather not ride any rides at all . Even the spinning teacups aren’t my favorite.)
I can have fun at an amusement park without the speed and the rush and the drops that I hate so much.
But in life, fear can be so much more crippling than this: stealing joy, stealing peace, stealing boldness for the gospel and courage for Christ, stealing sleep. It’s not about preference—rides or no rides. It’s about fear holding me back from obeying Christ or keeping me from fully entrusting myself, my family, my kids to God.
Sometimes, all the anxiety over taking a next step can be utterly paralyzing. What I really need to do is just do it. Just take the step. Just have the conversation. Just sign up or just step down. Whatever God is asking me to do, I need to do in obedience. Faith over fear. Trust over timidity.
Still I waiver so often.
Still I feel that paralysis of indecision and anxiety.
Still I try so hard to keep control over the many things I cannot control.
In the Everyday with Jesus Bible, Selwyn Hughes reminds me of what fear does and why it’s our enemy:
Fear sinks us: When Peter stepped out of the boat, he “saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!'” (Matthew 14:30 CSB).
Fear knocks us down: When the disciples saw the glory of the Lord at the Mount of Transfiguration, their fear sent them to their knees. But, “Jesus came up, touched them, and said, ‘Get up; don’t be afraid.'” (Matthes 17:7 CSB).
Fear hides our treasures and gifts: The man with one talent in the parable said, “I was afraid and went off and hid your talent in the ground.” His talent was wasted, buried in the earth and shoved into a hole in the ground because of fear.(Matthew 25:25 CSB).
Fear puts us behind closed doors: After Jesus’s resurrection, the disciples gathered in secret, “with the doors locked because they feared the Jews. Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.”” (John 20:19 CSB).
“Fear drives us underground:” Joseph of Arimathea was “a disciple of Jesus—but secretly because of his fear of the Jews” (John 19:38 CSB).
I wonder how often I let fears from my past hold me back in the here and now. Maybe I’ve grown. Maybe I’ve gone up a few colors on the growth chart, and yet I’m still sticking to the same-old same-old, the easiest and the most comfortable things before me instead of moving on.
Isaiah the prophet said:
Say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, and do not fear,
for your God is coming to destroy your enemies.
He is coming to save you.” (Isaiah 35:4)
Maybe these are words we can speak to fearful hearts around us.
Or maybe this is the reminder our own fearful heart needs: “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming….”
It’s because of his presence, His strength, His might, His mercy that we fearful ones can take the next courageous step.