One of my favorite passages of scripture comes from the book of Isaiah. God's people needed a fresh word of hope and confidence, and God delivered. He responded with the words, "Fear not, for I am with you." There is nothing more comforting than the confidence of God's presence. No matter our circumstances or situation in life, knowing that God is with us brings hope and peace. It shines light into the darkest of situations.
Loneliness and isolation are some of the most difficult of human emotions. I have felt it in a foreign country, when I lacked the ability to fully communicate with the people around me. Or when I have been in a room filled with people, most of which I did not know, but they all knew each other really well. In both scenarios, I could have been surrounded by a million people, but I still felt alone. Or when depression sets in upon a human mind, loneliness is often quickly behind. At those moments, it is not the number of people around you, but the presence of the right person that matters.
Whether it be a lack of genuine relationships, the storms of life that brew on the horizon, or the crushing weight of unmet expectations, we need to know that God is with us. In Isaiah 41, God's people are in exile. They feel defeated and alone in a foreign nation. They needed hope.
"Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10)."
What a beautiful gift God gives his people. There is no greater hope than the confidence of God's presence. Even in exile, God's people can have hope because God says, "Fear not, for I am with you."
I am with you
All throughout the Scriptures, God's presence with his people is a major theme. When they are in the wilderness after the exodus from Egypt, God went with them as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21). When Jesus was leaving this earth, he promised that he would always be with his disciples, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). Jesus explains that God is Spirit (John 4:24), as a way of teaching that God's presence is not restricted to a particular location. God's presence is far reaching and can be with anyone at anytime without limit.
There is nothing more comforting than knowing that God is present with us. When the waters rise and waves begin to crash on the shores of my family life, my wife and I know that if we are in it together, we are much better off than when we go it alone. It isn't just the presence of another person that brings comfort in the storm, it is the presence of the right person. My wife is great, but she isn't God. Knowing my wife is going to hold my hand and weather the storm with me brings comfort, but knowing that God is with me is unmatched.
God says that he will strengthen us, he will help us, he will uphold us with his righteous right hand. This may not mean that he takes the storm away, but that he will hold our hand in the midst of the storm. God renews his promise a couple chapters later, when he says "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine (Isaiah 43:1)."
He has called us, and He is our God. The God who formed the earth, who commands the seas, who calms the storms and whose voice the winds obey, that is our God. We are his, and he says, "Fear not, for I am with you." The same God who made that promise to his people through the prophet Isaiah is the God whom we worship through Jesus Christ.
I would encourage you to memorize Isaiah 41:10, and recite it to yourself over and over. Remind yourself again and again that God is with you. And help others to remember that God is with them as well.