“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
What keeps you up at night? Is it anxious thoughts about the future, or brooding about the past? Or maybe that conversation you keep replaying over and over? Whatever your thing is, you’re probably pretty well acquainted with that enemy.
When Moses spoke these words from Deuteronomy 3:16 to God’s people, he was referring to a tangible enemy that was right in front of them. It was pretty obvious they were going to need His help. There’s a reason the words “don’t be afraid” are repeated 4 times in this one chapter. There were some very real reasons to be afraid.
Sometimes the command “don’t be afraid” feels a little weak, or even unfair, when the enemy is literally breathing down your neck. It feels like someone standing on the edge of the shore, shouting at someone who’s drowning, “SWIM!!” Well, thanks for that. Clearly if I knew how to swim, I wouldn’t be drowning.
God doesn’t stand on the shore and shout at us. He jumps in the water with us. His heartbeat is rescue.
“For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
As I read over this verse again this morning, I realized it very specifically addresses two of the enemies I need most to be rescued from. The fear of failure, and the fear of abandonment (if you really knew me you wouldn’t love me). These aren’t imaginary boogymen underneath my bed. I’ve felt the sting of failure and the pain of rejection before. It’s real. The fear of experiencing them again are the enemies pursue me relentlessly.
The hope in the command “don’t be afraid” doesn’t come from a naive place of, “Don’t worry, there’s nothing to be afraid of.” It comes when you’re drowning in that very real sea of heartbreak. It comes in the form of a Rescuer, who will never, never, never, fail or abandon you. Rescue may not always look like we think it should. But there is infinite hope in a Rescuer who has personally gone ahead of us into the frigid waters. A Rescuer who will stay there with us, and one day bring us safely back to shore.