Have you ever witnessed a father harshly demanding that his frightened child stop crying?

That kind of response makes us believe that the relationship itself is defective—that it’s unhealthy and tainted. In fact, we would rightly assume that a father with so little empathy for his child is someone with a serious character flaw.

Yet sometimes we subconsciously believe that is how God our Father treats us.  Sometimes we read verses that say, “Do not fear” as if they are commands . . . and commands we had better hurry up and obey. Then our original fear is compounded by guilt over being fearful!

But God is not harsh and demanding. He is compassionate and full of grace.

He is different.

Picture instead, a frightened, teary child sitting on a curb. A loving parent comes and sits down beside them. The parent gently says, “Don’t be afraid.  I’m right here.  I’ll help you.”

That “Don’t be afraid” sounds completely different.

If you are still not sure that is God’s intention, think about the verses where he invites us not to fear and he pairs it with a consoling phrase. Here are two examples:

“Fear not for I am with you…I will strengthen you and help you” Isaiah 41:10
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.  Be strong and courageous.”  Joshua 1:5b, 6a

God encourages us—he invites us to have courage—while he affirms our relationship. He tenderly says, “Don’t be afraid.  I’m right here.  I’ll help you.”

Recently, I felt really impacted by Isaiah 41:13: “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

There is a lot of security when you hold someone’s hand.  It indicates belonging, affection, care.

From now on, I want to read, “Fear not” as consolation and as encouragement that God can be counted on no matter what. I want to recognize the tenderness and compassion that causes God to draw near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18).

I am so grateful that God sits on the curb beside me.