Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob,
little Israel, do not fear,
for I myself will help you,” declares the Lord,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
(Isaiah 41: 14)
I have been noticing for a while now, that there is a link between diminishing fears, and our humility. Here in this verse, the Lord puts Israel in their place, addressing their hearts lovingly in a kind of ‘cruel to be kind’ way. When they were afraid, he doesn’t encourage them by building up their self-esteem. He calls them worms! He says, no, you are tiny, you can do nothing, but do not fear, because I myself will help you.
Jonathan Edwards said that “a truly Christian love, either to God or men, is a humble, broken-hearted love. The desires of the saints, however earnest, are humble desires: their hope is a humble hope; and their joy, even when it is unspeakable and full of glory, is a humble, brokenhearted joy, and leaves the Christian more poor in spirit, and more like a little child, and more disposed to a universal lowliness of behaviour.”
How does humbling yourself to the level of a worm bring comfort and relieve fears? Surely this is the opposite of what our world teaches. Self-love and positive thinking is supposed to help us believe in ourselves. But as Christians our confidence is not in ourselves or in the opinions of others. It is in the beautiful name of Jesus. The power and confidence that the world gives may make us feel strong and valuable for a short time, but it is not the example Jesus sets us. Ed Welch says “Spiritual power feels like a struggle, or weakness, or neediness, or desperation. It is simply ‘I need Jesus’, which is the most powerful thing we can say.” Our own weaknesses can become for us a blessing, because they cast us onto the Lord.
Paul was happy to boast in his lowliness because he knew that Gods power is made perfect in weakness. Jesus himself reminds us that apart from him, we can do nothing. Pride stiffens our knees to bow, and the truth is, when I am fearful it is usually because I have believed the lie that I am in control of my own life, and future. I am most fearful when I forget that I am no longer my own; I have been bought by the king, and he is sovereign over everyday, every hour and every minute.
At my weakest and most fearful, I do not need a cheerleader to help me believe in myself. I do not need to be encouraged in my looks, in my gifts, or my strength of character. I do not need someone to tell me I am strong enough to get through. This is setting me up for a fall, because I am definitely not strong enough. What I most need to hear is that my Heavenly Father is with me, and has promised never to leave me. More than this, He has promised to help me in times of trouble. He understands my frailty and, hallelujah! In my weakness, he is strong enough.
Surely broken and contrite in spirit is the best way to be? A humble heart allows us to let go of our earthly allegiances and cling to our eternal home in heaven. When all our treasure is in heaven we have nothing to lose, and therefore nothing to fear. The Bible does not tell us that we can have, or be anything we want to be. But praise God, he does promise that he will help worms who look to him.
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”