You can never have too much of a good thing, they say.

I have never figured out who “they” are, but I think I disagree with them when it comes to cliché  quotes. Too much is definitely too much.

You’ve seen those beautiful pictures of some scenic route, with spring flowers spilling onto the path, a girl in a ruffled dress, carrying some kind of basket in her hand and a cute dog on a leash. The picture reads “Life is a journey, pick flowers along the way” or something cutesy like that. It's a better outlook on life than some others, but when you see it over and over again it tends to fall on deaf ears.

If you’ve been around church people for more than a minute, you may have heard things like “God won’t give you more than you can handle,” which is false, or “God works in mysterious ways,” which is not in the Bible. We hear phrases like these all the time, so when we hear actual, life-giving, biblical truth, we stick our fingers in our ears and assume we’ve heard it one too many times before.

One particular sermon illustration about fear falls in that category for me. It has been used frequently across denominations for years. Ironically, I’m going to use it here. Don’t turn into a Krispy Kreme donut on me and glaze over.

It’s always some variation of this: “Did you know the phrase, “Do not fear!” is used 365 times in the Bible? That’s one for every day!”

Unlike some of the other clichés in Christian culture, this one is true. The Bible does say not to fear 365 times. It's what comes after the phrase “do not fear” that gives it its weight.

Genesis 26:24 “That night the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘I am the God of your father Abraham, do not be afraid, for I am with you…”

Deuteronomy 31:8 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, of the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Joshua 1:9  “…Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Psalm 118:6  “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid…”

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.”
Notice a pattern here? Yes, the Bible says “Do not fear” over and over again. But it‘s always with the implication that God is with you.

It doesn’t say not to fear  because the situation isn’t that scary or because you're strong and you can do it. It doesn’t say “Don’t fear because you should have a more positive outlook.” It says “Do not fear for I am with you.”

God is with you. That is why this is profound.

So, yes. That fear or anxiety you have is bigger than what you can deal with. Stop beating yourself up because you haven’t handled it yet.

That situation you can’t seem to sort through? You’re right, it is too complex – for you.

Here’s the real truth: God takes the impossible and and makes it possible. He’s in control, and he’s got a plan and it is the best one, and he’s going to get it right the first time.
So let him work it all for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

Do not fear for he is with you.
 

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