“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (NLT)
by Brenna Fields Taylor
As I write this blog, it is April of 2020, and the world is in the middle of a pandemic called COVID-19, a virus that is spreading rapidly throughout the world, taking the lives of countless people. Because of the contagious nature of the disease, many communities are living in a complete shut-down (or at minimum, are sheltering in place, rarely venturing outside). As a result, the times in which we are living are unsettling, unusual and unprecedented. History records that there have been many plagues of diseases that have impacted the entire world, including the flu pandemic of 1918 and a cholera pandemic that ran from 1852-1860. While the experience of pandemics is new to us, it is not new to the world and certainly not new to God.
In the midst of these trying weeks, I have witnessed God’s healing power restores friends and loved ones, and at the same time I’ve seen when God has chosen to call others home to be with Him. It has been an emotional rollercoaster! What we are being told about this current pandemic seems to change almost daily, and a lot of times, we are unsure whose report to believe. Churches don’t know whether they should meet in person or not, and sadly, there are debates among Christians on faith (or lack thereof), depending on churches’ decisions on this issue. Vacations, conferences, class and family reunions, and weddings have been cancelled or postponed. And since no one has any idea of how long this thing is going to last, our lives seem to be on hold.
Even in the midst of all of this, I want to encourage you (and me) to hold on. Isaiah 41:10 in the NLT says “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
This virus has many of us hesitant to leave our homes and to be in close proximity to other people, and rightfully so. But this particular passage says that we shouldn’t be afraid. This virus may have some of us feeling discouraged because we see so much sickness and death around us. I will admit that, even as a minister, I have been overwhelmed by the many prayer requests for healing and comfort, even as my own family deals with the aftermath of death.
But in this passage, God tells us that we don’t have to be afraid and discouraged, because He is with us AND He is our God. God has given us three promises in this one verse: He promises to strength us, to help us and to hold us up. I encourage you to lean on and lean into God and these promises, that He will strengthen you, to help you and to hold you up.
What I find interesting about this passage is that it’s not just any old hand that is holding us up. It is God’s “victorious right hand” that is holding us up. The right hand of God symbolizes power and might. It conveys authority and blessings. Not only is the hand of God powerful, but it is also victorious. So if God is holding me up with his victorious right hand, he is giving me power, strength, authority, blessings and victory, even in this precarious time.
I know we are overwhelmed, tired and unsure…but hold on. God has promised to strengthen us, to help us, and to hold us up. Let’s trust God together.