We often talk about “the worst that could happen.” Business people often ask, “What is the ‘worst-case scenario’ and how do we prepare for it?” All of us try to think such things through because we want to be prepared just in case the worst actually occurs.
If we are honest, however, we think about the worst that could happen not simply so that we can be prepared. We think about the worst-case scenarios because we are afraid.
We are afraid the cry of Job will become our own: “The thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me” (Job 3:25). We are afraid of the suffering and pain that will come to us. And we are afraid that we might be crushed, abandoned, and alone, exposed to be what we know we are: without resources, without ability, without hope.
That’s where Isaiah 43 comes in. Hard on the heels of prophecy that depicts the wrath of God coming upon His people, the worst that could be imagined, God comes and says, “But now, fear not.”
Why? Why should we not be afraid when the worst that we can imagine comes upon us? Why should we fear not? God gives us two reasons:
First, He tells us, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you” (43:1). This language of redemption took God’s people back to the exodus, when He redeemed them from the house of slavery, and took them forward to the return from exile, when He would bring them out of Babylon. But for modern-day believers, this language takes us especially to the cross of Jesus, where our God offered His Son in the place of sinners like us (Eph. 1:7).
God’s redemption of us comes to us by way of calling. This calling is not a general calling but a particular calling: “I have called you by name, you are mine.” Here is strong comfort for our fearful hearts: the God who has redeemed us through His particular sacrifice and effectual calling is the One to whom we belong in body and soul, and in life and in death. When the worst comes upon us, we can take our hearts to this God and hear Him say: “Fear not. I have purchased you.”
But there is a second reason: “Fear not, for I am with you” (Isa. 43:5). As the first seven verses of the chapter make clear, God is present with us in our affliction. Even if we know the heat of God’s answer, He is with us in the midst of the fire so that we shall not be burned; even if we are overwhelmed by floods of sorrow, He is with us so that we shall not drown. When the worst comes upon us and we feel exposed, alone, and ashamed, we hear God reminding us that He is with us in our affliction. Here is another strong exhortation: “Fear not. I am present with you.”
So, here are strong reasons why we should not fear. When the worst-case scenario occurs, we need to run to this text and hear God shout to us: “Fear not. I have purchased you. I am present with you. I love you.”