Do Not Be Afraid!
James Smith, 1842
"So do not be afraid, 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!"
Whenever Mercy speaks to us, it is in a way worthy of herself. All of the addresses of Divine Mercy, are characterized by tenderness and truth. Mercy tenderly compassionates us under all the miseries we are called to suffer, and addresses us with words of truth, suited to our circumstances, at every turn. When believers are troubled in mind, and cast down in soul, by reason of difficulties, dangers, or foes — Mercy speaks in accents the most encouraging and sweet, and says, do not be afraid!
There is nothing to which we are more prone, than to fear. The weakness of our faith, and the vileness of our natures, are continually leading us astray into despondency and fear; and yet we have no real cause to fear, either in reference to things temporal or spiritual. Our covenant God and Father forbids it, and Jesus has many times prohibited it. Every promise in His word, and sweet feature in His revealed character, are leveled against our doubts and false reasoning. And yet there is frequently occasion for him to say to us, as to His disciples of old, "Why are you distrustful?"
If guilt has been contracted, and a sense of sin lies heavy on the soul, He says to us, "Do not be afraid; come and let us reason together; though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool." What can be more sweetly encouraging, or what more plain or positive than these gracious words of our faithful God? Let us then, whenever beset with fears, arising from a guilty conscience, or a sense of sin resting upon the soul; let us hasten to the throne of divine grace, and there reason with our God on the ground of His promise, and the infinitely meritorious blood of our dear Redeemer.
Let us not harbor hard thoughts, as though God was unwilling to forgive, or was backward to fulfill His word — but let us draw near, and talk the matter over, expecting Jehovah to be as good as His word, and to act according to His revealed character. If troubles increase, and trials abound, He says to us, "Do not be afraid, I will be with you in trouble; I will deliver you and honor you; I will set you on high, because you have known my name."
What then should we do, when troubles increase and abound — but accept the free invitation of Heaven, and expect our God to make good His word; he says, "Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me." If then we have any concern for our Lord's glory, or if we would secure deliverance in a safe and honorable way, we must turn from all creatures to the Lord, we must call upon Him in faith — simply giving credit to His word, with importunate supplications, until He raises up Himself and send us deliverance and joy. Oh safe, easy, and gracious way out of trouble! May I ever prefer this to all the schemes of my carnal heart, or the advices of professed friends.
If enemies, great in power, or numerous, should arise, and set themselves in array against me, with a design to injure me or impede my course, my God says, "Do not be afraid, no weapon formed against you shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment, you shall condemn; this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of Me, says the Lord." Not a dog can move his tongue, or any creature perform an action, without the assistance and permission of the God who bids you "Do not be afraid."
Would He bid you banish fear, and rely entirely upon him — and then allow your enemies to triumph in your overthrow? Surely not. He is faithful to His word of promise, and ever acts in accordance with the character given Him in His word. Rather then, let me say, "I will trust and not be afraid, for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song, He also is become my salvation!"
If beset with temptations of a painful nature and distressing character, He says, "Do not be afraid, no temptation has taken you — but such as is common to man; and I am faithful; and will make a way for your escape, that you may be able to bear it." Your trials and temptations are all necessary, not one is superfluous, not one can be dispensed with consistent with your best interests.
Satan is a chained foe, and your Savior's servant; he can only go by permission, and his bounds are always set him; his roaring may frighten you — but his teeth shall never fasten upon you; he may worry you — but shall never devour you. Let your circumstances be what they may, still your God says, "Do not be afraid, for all things work together for good to those who love God, and are called according to His purpose." "All things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might, through the thanksgiving of many, redound to the glory of God." Keep the glory of God in view, and all things are yours, whether they be spiritual, temporal, or eternal.
We shall always have enough to make us pray; but, if believers, nothing should make us fear; because God says, "do not be afraid." God is with us; God is for us; and God will help us — and that right early.
God has arranged all our concerns with consummate wisdom, in the very best possible manner; if we only keep things in the places which has appointed for them, all must be well, and well forever.
He overrules all events by His omnipotent power, and if we only believe this, we may rest contented and happy.
He directs all things by his paternal love; and if so, why then should we fear, be anxious, or distressed? If infinite wisdom, omnipotent power, and paternal love, are engaged for our present and eternal welfare — then our fears must be groundless, and our anxiety folly. It is only to believe His precious promises, to trust His immutable faithfulness, plead a Savior's prevalent name — and accept all that a good and gracious God can give! In a word, to be humble, active, and happy.
But never let us doubt His love, question His kindness, or neglect fellowship with Him; for this would be to sow the seeds of distress, and insure to ourselves many sorrows. Our life is safe, it is hid with Christ in God; and because He lives, we shall live also. Our cause must prosper, for He ever lives to make intercession for us. Our end will be blessed, for He is gone to prepare mansions for us, and will come again and receive us to Himself.
Surely then, we need not fear or be discouraged; if God is our God, Jesus our Savior, the promises our property, the Holy Spirit our present Comforter, and Heaven our final home — what can we have worthy of our cares, or sufficient to fill us with fear?
If, then, Mercy says to us who believe on Jesus, that we should not fear; if it holds out such encouragement to confidence, contentment, and peace — then let us come boldly to a throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help us in every time of need; grace to serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear. And let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily besets us, or which hangs so fast on; and let us run, with patience, the race set before us, looking unto Jesus. Fears only dishonor God, distress the mind, please Satan, and grieve the godly; let us then watch, pray, and strive against them; remembering it is God, the faithful, just, and true, who says to us, "do not be afraid."
He calls a worm His friend;
He calls Himself my God!
And He will save me to the end,
Through Jesus' precious blood!
He, by Himself, has sworn;
I on His oath depend;
I shall, on eagle's wings upborne,
To Heaven ascend.
I shall behold His face,
I shall His power adore;
And sing the wonders of His grace