2019 is upon us. Now is when you probably find yourself joyful and optimistic, or hurting and tired, or trembling about what might come your way this year. Or maybe you feel a bit of it all. Regardless, I believe this word is for us right now: “But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” (Isa. 43:1).
When the prophet Isaiah wrote these words, the people of Israel were being held captive in Assyria. They had lost much. No more possessions, no more homes, no more celebratory feasts, no more Temple worship. Their loved ones had lost their lives. They had physical ailments that weren’t being treated. Life was gloomy, heavy, dark. Yet God commanded them, “Fear not.” How? How could God command such an impossible heart posture from His enslaved people? He tells them: “for I have redeemed you.”
“Fear not” is not an empty command. When God tells us to “fear not,” His command is rooted in His faithful promise of redemption. God is our Redeemer. This means that He has bought us back from enslavement to claim us as His own. The people of Israel experienced this when God redeemed them from slavery in Egypt. Now as they found themselves enslaved again, God tells them, “I have redeemed you.” God’s redeeming mercy would not be diminished by His people’s gloomy circumstance. He would act. Through the prophet Isaiah, God promised to fully redeem His people by the hand of the Messiah-King (Isa. 9:6-7). This Messiah (Christ) would not only redeem Israel, but people from every nation, tongue, and tribe (Isa. 49:5-7).
When that Messiah came, His redemption wasn’t exactly what Israel expected. He healed, He taught, and He worked tons of miracles. But He was poor, He didn’t reside in a palace, and He wasn’t well liked by those in power. What many didn’t understand was that His redemption was the deepest kind of redemption we all need. He came to “save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). Jesus redeemed us with His precious blood shed on the cross where He paid for our every sin (1 Pet. 1:18-19). Those who trust in Jesus will one day experience the full effect of that redemption—perfectly sinless souls in resurrected bodies on a resurrected earth, residing with God Himself forever (Rom. 8:18-24; Rev. 21:3).
Just as He commanded Israel to “fear not” back then, God calls us to “fear not” today. Fear not your cancer. Fear not the sickness of your loved one. Fear not your infertility. Fear not your unemployment. Fear not your burnt down home. Fear not your corrupt government. Fear not the present nor the future. How, God? How can You command such an impossible heart posture from us? He sings to us of His redeeming love: “I will be with you […] you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you. […] I am with you.” (Isa. 43:1-7).
When God tells us to “fear not,” He doesn’t promise us a year without trials. He promises us Himself. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” (Isa. 43:2; emphases mine). In and through your present circumstance, God is redeeming you. Your highs and your lows both have a purpose to draw you nearer to Him. Through each pain, He aims to strengthen your faith so that you can look more and more like your Redeemer.
Whether on the mountain top or in the valley, we stand rooted in God’s past and future redemption. Today, “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (2 Cor. 4:17). Today, we “fear not” because of God’s past and future faithfulness—from Christ’s First Advent (Isa. 61:1) to His upcoming Second Advent (Rev. 21:4). Wherever we are today is within God’s sovereign, redemptive purpose for us. We “fear not” because God has redeemed us in Christ, is redeeming us through sanctification, and will fully redeem us when Christ comes again.
As we begin 2019, may we stand firm in the fullness of God’s redeeming love for us in Christ. Fear not, dear sister, for He is with you. May 2019 bring a renewed intimacy with our Lord Jesus as redeemed women—precious, honored, and loved by our faithful Redeemer.
“He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32
Salime is a follower of Jesus, a wife, and a homeschooling mom of two. She has lived in the U.S., China, and Ethiopia. Her travels all around the globe have allowed her to see how God is at work everywhere, redeeming different people groups. She loves encouraging women through writing and teaching. Her dream is to see Jesus known and enjoyed in her native Mexico and throughout Latin America, so she creates resources that encourage and root women in Christ. She’s also an IF:Gathering local leader in Tampa, Florida and a member of the IF:Gathering Advisory Board. Read her blog in Spanish at www.cautivadaensugracia.com.