I can remember a time in my life where I felt surrounded by fears and worries and lived in what seemed to be a perpetual state of discouragement. Though I could recite many of God’s promises, often word-for-word from Scripture, in my heart they seemed to have lost their power. I was not wowed by the God who had turned water to wine, who made the lame walk, who opened the eyes of the blind. God felt distant and impersonal.
Thankfully, I’m not in a season like that now. That season had boundary lines. God faithfully renewed my hope, restored my joy, and met me in my need. But I was thinking about that season recently, and it sparked some questions in my mind. What changed? What made the difference in the day-to-day way I now experience the Lord? Why was that season so challenging?
I think the answer was that God had become small in my eyes. Though I knew his promises, in my heart God had ceased to be my tender Shepherd and conquering King. And so His promises seemed powerless to quiet my fears, assuage my gloom, and lift my anxious heart. What I needed was so much more than rehearsing his promises over and over again. I needed to freshly behold the God who gave them.
Isaiah 40:9 says, “Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, ‘Behold your God!’”
That verse was given as a message of hope to God’s people who, at the time, were exiled in Babylonian captivity. God wanted this brokenhearted people to see that He was incomparably powerful over all things and therefore able to provide strength for endurance to those who would wait for Him. He wanted them to see Him more clearly and to behold his glory so that they could “fear not,” even in the midst of challenging circumstances.
So who is the God who has given us his promises? What do I see when I look for Him in his word?
- I see the God “who is strong in power,” who created the world and spoke all things into existence (Isaiah 40:26).
- I see the God of tender care who carried his wayward children as a shepherd cares for his sheep, through the harsh and unforgiving wilderness, into the Promised Land (Psalm 78:52-54).
- I see a God who is infinitely wise in every way, whose “understanding is unsearchable” (Isaiah 40:28).
- I see the sovereign God who knows my every day, trial, thought, and care and watches over me in the midst (Psalm 139:1-16).
This list could go on and on!
When I take time to behold Him, God becomes bigger in my eyes. When God is big in my eyes, even when nothing else in my life changes, my day-to-day experience of God can change. With the help of his Spirit, I can “fear not” and trust him for strength to endure. My problems may be big, but I know with certainty that my God is bigger, and my perspective on them changes. And in the shadow of the God of Promise, God’s promises once again breathe new life.