A very well-read man has said, “Books don’t often change your life. Single sentences from books change your life.” Words, then—even a mere sentence-full of them—are very powerful.
One such sentence that has impacted me perhaps more than any other I’ve ever come to know is a single, compound sentence from Isaiah 41:10. There, God says to his people,
Fear not, for I am with you.
I have never read a single sentence that has impacted me as much as that one has. It is incredibly simple as far as sentences go—two independent clauses joined neatly together by a coordinating conjunction. And yet, the truth behind such deceptively simple sentence construction is breath-taking.
To begin with, God tells his people, “Fear not.” It’s a command. What’s more, it’s a command regarding our emotions. He’s commanding us not to be afraid. He’s ordering us not to feel fear.
Why? On what basis would he make such a claim? He doesn’t leave us guessing. He gives us a rock-solid reason as to why we should not be afraid, introduced by the little word “for,” meaning because. He commands us not to fear because he is with us.
I could not overstate the staggering implications of the fact that God is with me. The thought has filled me with the deepest sense of awe and peace more times than I can now count. The very being who stretched out the stars with his fingers (Psalm 8:3) and who actively upholds the universe by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3) is, right now as I type these words, with me. He is present. He is here. He is with me.
I think this verse has meant so much to me over the past few years because of all that I see in that word “with.” He’s not against me. He’s for me. He’s not distant. He’s close. He’s not working in opposition to me. He’s working for my good. He’s not aloof of my doings. He’s involved at the very minutest detail of everything I do. He’s not cold and indifferent to my needs and wants. He knows me inside and out because he’s right here with me.
Ever needed someone to simply be with you? It is impressive to me how someone’s mere presence, sometimes, is enough. God is always with me. He is good, and he is powerful, and he is with me. As the psalmist said, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it” (Psalm 139:6). It is beyond my ability to fully grasp.
May you come to know God this way. So I say to you as God has so often whispered to me, “Fear not, for I am with you.”