Do you ever feel overwhelmed with uncertainty? Sometimes I do. Do ambiguous personal and corporate concerns about your future threaten and attack you? Yes! According to many Christian leaders, cultural change and moral disintegration pessimistically signal the end or at least extremely difficult times for the church in its present form… Family financial crises loom and dwindling resources intimidate your faith… Complex situations and tangled relationships generate chaos…
I don’t know how you handle these pressures, but when I feel like caving under the barrage of stress, I am encouraged by thinking of God’s promises and faithfulness. By God’s grace, I attempt to recall that the LORD has repeatedly reminded his people (including me) to be strong and courageous, to not be afraid, but to trust in him. Quite often, God’s encouragement comes in the form of a personal promise: “I will be with you.” Or “I am with you.”
My sophisticated Bible research software, when finally given the appropriate command, was able to tell me that the phrase “I will be with you”, spoken by the Lord occurs 11 times in the Bible (ESV). It also quickly informed me that God’s promise, “I am with you.” is found 17 times in Scripture. It was really encouraging to read each of these verses in one report!
There are many other ways in which God encourages his people, but I am thinking about how God promises his presence to his people. The promise of God’s presence has been a great encouragement to God’s people throughout Scripture. Check it out for yourself. Just off the top of my head, I can recall that God made this commitment to Jacob, Gideon, David, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Haggai, the disciples of Jesus and Paul. No doubt you can find others. As you read the Bible, be on the lookout for this precious promise.
Here are a handful of passages in which God promises his presence:
Psalm 23.4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Isaiah 41.10 “… 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.”
Matthew 28.18 – 20 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
So, when discouragement or uncertainty (euphemisms for doubt) threaten to intimidate you and to choke out your faith, let God through the Scriptures remind you of his promise to be with you.
The promise of the presence – God’s presence defeats all doubt, obliterates pessimism and raises my hope toward God my Savior.