I had always heard that the most repeated phrase in the Bible was, “Do not fear.” We can’t seem to remember this one, so God tells us over and over again. Whispers it.
Do not fear.
I am the Great I AM. You are mine. Do not fear.
I have lived for so long in fear.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. God is love and is the opposite of fear. Supposedly, love trumps fear.
I repeated this phrase to myself over and over again right before my husband, and I got engaged. I would repeat so many phrases to myself: “Do not fear. FEAR IS NOT THE BOSS OF ME. Love trumps fear. Fear does not rule me.” Every time I would hear some blended family horror story (and there are countless). Every time I conjured up a new scenario in my brain about how my life is now shot to hell because of this one thing that happened to this one person one time.
Do not fear.
My stepdaughter and I have a beautiful relationship. She doesn’t slam the door and yell, “You’re not my real mom!” She doesn’t tell me she doesn’t have to listen to me. She doesn’t tell me that she doesn’t love me.
But she could, tomorrow. And that would be normal. Things could change on a dime.
Do not fear.
The second most repeated phrase in the Bible is “remember.” In church last Sunday, we sang “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” I love that hymn; I feel it deep in my soul. Since life has been so crazy, it felt differently to sing it. I felt a twinge of, “Emily, do you really believe that? Do you really believe that, above all, He is faithful?”
I paused. Being a step mama has turned my life upside down. Things do not go my way all the time. The sense of control that most parents seem to have is regularly diminished. We don’t get to decide what we think is best for her and implement it at the drop of a hat. We just don’t, and it makes me furious. I want to scream, “BUT I DID EVERYTHING RIGHT! I made the ‘right’ choices. I gave my life away in ministry. I have tried to pursue Jesus with everything I have, AND THIS IS WHAT I GET?”
I am not sure who told me this lie: that if I didn’t drink until I was 21 and became a Young Life Leader and didn’t have sex until I was married, I would get a lovely life in return. It felt owed to me. I am a classic Elder Brother who says to his father, “All of these years I have slaved for you! I have never disobeyed your orders! Where’s my inheritance I have been promised?”
And the Lord says to me gently, “Remember.”
Remember that Jesus promises us nothing but Himself. We are not promised a tidy life, financial prosperity, or easy relationships. We Remember the moments that God has shown up big time, and we cling to them with everything we have; because I can guarantee you, we will forget. We remember when it is Light so we can hang on when the Darkness inevitably comes.
One of the most powerful passages of Scripture that exists is in the book of Daniel. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are about to be burned alive. They say, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
God is beyond able to save us, but even if he doesn’t, we aren’t going anywhere. The reality is, we will not always be delivered. We won’t. On this side of heaven, sometimes cancer wins. Custody hearings make your heart split in two. Addiction prevails. Marriages crumble. Jobs are lost. Children are wayward. But we have this great hope, it is written on our hearts, and we trust that His presence is enough. We trust that great is Thy faithfulness and that He is good.
But even if He doesn’t, here we are. Trusting that His presence resides within us. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Fear not, friends. Remember.