In two of my readings this morning, someone was told to not be afraid. One was in the Old Testament, the other in the New. Separated by centuries and with very different circumstances at play, the bottom line was similar . . . God’s people were in legitimately fearful situations. And yet, in both cases, they are encouraged not to be afraid. And the fear-dispelling agent in both cases was that which is not seen.
When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2Kings 6:15-17 ESV)
The odds were heavily in their enemies favor. The Syrian king had sent a “great army” to take Elisha prisoner. They had Elisha and his servant, and the entire city, surrounded. No way of escape. Time to hit the panic button? I’m thinkin’ . . .
But Elisha is aware of that which is not seen. And God, in answer to prayer and by His mighty grace, for a brief moment peels back the veil of the invisible world and the servant of Elisha sees a reality he had perhaps only heard about. He is reminded that more are those who are with him than those who are with the enemy. Kind of has a familiar ring to it, doesn’t it?
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1John 4:4 ESV)
I was then reading in Philippians 1. Paul’s kind of in a dire situation himself. A prisoner of Rome and unsure of how things might play out before the Roman judicial system, it could be life . . . or, it could be death. Either way he desired courage so that Christ would be honored in his body (Php. 1:20). And where might such courage come from? That which is not seen.
For Paul to live was Christ, but to die was gain (1:21). Paul knew that “to depart” would result in being with Christ in His domain, “which is far better” (1:23). It was faith in that which was not seen that fueled the fire of grace-infused courage for Paul. And so, he would encourage those also called to suffer for Christ to not be afraid.
Only let your manner of life be worthyof the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. (Philippians 1:27-28 ESV)
Sometimes we just need to close our eyes, turn our faces toward the hills, and toward the heavens, and be reminded of that which is not seen. The armies that surround us . . . the Savior who awaits us.
And then stand firm . . . and strive side by side . . . assured of our salvation.
By His grace . . . for His glory . . .