This morning a Facebook friend said she'd had a rocky 2021, and asked for Bible verses that provide help in time of need. I posted my life verse, Isaiah 41:10: "So 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." I often wake up with these words going through my head. All my life I've been prone to the anxiety of fear, and I often have to pray through to peace following an initial fearful response.
Earlier this week I noticed a that my left arm had a rashy appearance. I remembered a scary account I'd read online of someone who had a similar rash and later died, and I panicked. I called our local doctor's office and, still feeling so frightened that my blood pressure tested 20 points higher than usual, poured out my fears to the nurse practitioner. He judged that I was being silly, and he all but rolled his eyes. With exaggerated patience he explained, "Sometimes, when we are upset, our skin becomes reactive." I felt patronized, foolish, and humiliated.
I had not been upset until I noticed the rash, but in retrospect I realized I'd become overheated as I sat cozily in front of our propane heater, reading. When I'd stepped outside into cooler air, the rash had faded, so that all that was apparent by the time I reached the doctor's office was slightly mottled skin. I felt terribly embarrassed and foolish, and sat through the rest of the visit with downcast eyes, making mumbled excuses and replies to medical questions unrelated to the rapidly disappearing rash.
I made a couple of errors that day. Had I stopped to pray, the Lord would have kept me at home. Indeed, I did send a panicked prayer heavenward, felt the Lord say "This is nothing to worry about," and I ignored Him! I don't know why I gave way to fear as I did. But when I got back home and asked forgiveness, I felt no condemnation from the Lord, only reassurance, the kindness I craved, assurance that He is my advocate, and love. And, sweetly, He also provided the solace of a dear friend who felt so badly for me that tears of empathy came to her eyes. The Lord's compassion as expressed through her was a great blessing.
The Lord does not meet our fear with condemnation although there may be gentle reproach; I think of Jesus with an almost amused expression on His face as He pulls Peter from the churning waves. But most of all He shows compassion and hurries to our aid with truth-speaking, calming, forgiveness and love. Jesus does not patronize or ridicule us when we are afraid, He reminds us of who He is, and calms us with His comfort and truth.