When an angel appears to someone in the Bible, often the first thing the angel says is, “Do not be afraid.” That’s really not surprising, is it? I’ve never seen an angel, but if I did, I’m sure I would want to hear those words.
Philip Yancey says, “The Bible contains 365 commands to ‘fear not’—the most reiterated command in the Bible.” I think that’s because God knows we are prone to be afraid any time we meet up with something we don’t understand or can’t control—whether it’s an angel or an ominous event in our lives. But actually, fear is pointless.
When I looked up the phrase “Do not be afraid” in a Bible search program, I was excited to find that it is almost invariably linked with something about God—His presence, His power, His promise, or His past performance. For instance, He will say “Do not be afraid, for I will….” And then He gives us a promise.
Over and over in my life I’ve been encouraged by the words of Isaiah 41:10:
Do not fear, 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.
When I was a little girl, my Dad used to take me for walks. My hands were still very tiny and his were very large, so I would hold on to one of his fingers so I wouldn’t fall. But he knew that wasn’t enough, for if I stumbled, I could easily lose my grip on his finger. So He used to wrap the rest of his big fingers around my little hand so that even if I let go, he would still be holding on to me. It is a picture of the way God holds us with His big hand.
Yes, Lord, hold my hand tightly. I’m holding on to You, but even more important, I’m glad You’re holding on to me—more than ever when I am afraid!