What are things I notice myself being afraid of? What do I notice about how I am affected by fear? When I experience fear am I able to distinguish between rational and irrational fears? How do I respond? Those are the questions women considered before coming to our Yet He Is Our Comfort, Women’s Workshop. Opening in worship and wrapped in prayer, we began by sharing with one another the weight of our answers.
I enjoyed hearing laughter as the response to the question, “When I experience fear, am I able to distinguish between rational and irrational fear?”
I loved seeing women taking notes of encouraging things other women said.
I loved seeing group leaders probe deeper.
I love when women ask questions.
I love when people come late—as opposed to not coming.
I love woman-on-woman care.
Being a God-fearing woman is and feels very different than the types of fear we started with. It does not mean you are afraid of God. It means you know God is BIG. It means you know it is God who puts breath in your lungs. He is Almighty. He rules over all things. He is greater than all things. He is perfectly pure, holy, and just. To fear God means knowing all of these things and also knowing he loves you.
Our time together was centered on Isaiah 50:10 – 51:16.
The first verse, Isaiah 50:10 asks, “Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant?”
And calls him who walks in darkness and has no light to trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.
Chapter 51 shows us why.
1. God gives examples of His faithfulness.
In this passage, three times God calls us to listen and give attention to examples of how he is for his people, how he is for those who fear him, or view him this way.
- Isaiah 51:2-3 References God’s faithfulness to Abraham and Sarah (in Genesis 12 and Genesis 18 – 21).
- Isaiah 51:6 The heavens and earth will fade away. But God’s salvation and righteousness will be FOREVER.
- Isaiah 51:7-8 God is for us in times of reproach and reviling.
2. God’s faithfulness is for His people.
Every time that God brings up His faithful in this passage, He also reminds us that His faithful is TO US as His people.
- (50:10) …you who fear the Lord…
- (51:1) … you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the Lord…
- (51:4 ) …“my people” and “my nation”…
- (51:7) …you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law…
This gives specific examples of what it meant to follow God at the time Isaiah was written. All of these characteristics belong to us now if our faith is in Jesus. That means, if we know God sent His son Jesus to come to earth, live perfectly, and die as a sacrifice to clean us from our imperfections, all of the promises God is making belong to us as His people. He will be for us like Abraham and Sarah, outlasting the heavens and earth, his care and goodness for us is unending if we love Him and what He did for us in Jesus.
3. Yet He is our comfort.
God’s people question God twice with the words “awake, awake.” He responds twice with “I, I.”
In verses 12 – 16 God addresses things we fear. And the same way God’s people were questioning as if God had forgotten them, he questions them in return, “Have you forgotten the Lord your maker?” God points out he created us, he goes on to say he created the heavens and the earth. He is also the creator and ruler over all things we could possibly fear. In Isaiah 51:12-16 God calls us to see that he is in control over all things that could happen to us, nothing will come to us that the Lord has not permitted, and he will not leave us alone in the things we fear. He is our comfort.
“Many of God’s people are under apprehensions of calamities which will never occur to them. And they suffer far more in merely dreading them than they would have to endure if they actually came upon them. In their imagination, there are rivers in their way, and they are anxious to know how they shall wade through them, or swim across them. There are no such rivers in existence, but they are agitated and distressed about them. An old proverb says, “don’t cross the bridge until you come to it.” But these timid people are continually crossing bridges, that only exist in their foolish fantasies. They stab themselves with imaginary daggers, they starve themselves in imaginary famines, and even bury themselves in imaginary graves. We are such strange creatures, that we probably suffer more under blows which never fall upon us than we do under those which do actually come. The rod of God does not strike us as sharply, as the rod of our own imaginations does!”
Needless Fears! by Charles Spurgeon
God is our comfort, creator, and God. We are His people.
A point of application we landed on, is that our first reaction to fear can be different than how we choose to respond. We can interrupt and change the paths of our thinking and our impulses. We can, and should, question our fears. To ourselves, and out loud with others. Pray to believe truths about who the Lord is, and who you are. Pray for your view of the Lord as your comfort. Reference truths about God in His Word, and grow in knowing scripture by memory. Share and serve others with the things you are learning and growing in.
*At the workshop we presented the Psalm 34 Challenge. Click the link for details and to get signed-up.