The Word for 2021

December 29, 2020

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

YouVersion reports that these words from the prophet Isaiah comprised the most downloaded verse in 2020. Not surprising. That sounds just about right. 2020 was the most challenging year many of us have ever lived. Besides the pandemic, there was one issue after another every time we turned around.

I think, however, that sometimes we misinterpret this verse. God did not say He would remove everything that makes us fearful. Instead, He’s saying, “In the middle of all the things that could overcome you with fear, I am with you. Because I am with you, you have no need to be afraid.” He doesn’t say there is nothing challenging out there or there is nothing that could cause fear. There will always be things in our lives that are big and have the capacity to scare us. He simply tells us that when those things arise, decide to NOT fear. Decide to remember that He is with you, and put your confidence there.

This is also true when we become discouraged. God realizes that this world is a broken and even hostile place. He knows that disappointments and even injustice will come. He knows that we can give our best, most honest effort to something, even something we do for Him because we believe He has asked us to do so, and yet experience what seems to be failure and rejection. He is saying, “In the midst of it, remember and recognize that I am with you. Remember what I can do. Remember my steadfast love for you. Realize you are not alone. Know the Power of the Universe, your loving Father, is with you.”

What will He do?

He will strengthen you. When you think you are running out of juice and are about to lose it, He will make you strong. You will rise up with strength you didn’t even know you had.

He will help you. You know what’s it’s like to technically be strong enough to do something by yourself, but you sure wish you had someone to be with you and help you—a companion in the work. God will do that. He will help you in every situation, giving you just what you need to come through.

He will hold you up with His victorious right hand. When a victor is determined in a hard-fought boxing match, the officials grab the hand of the winner and raise it in the air. That image comes to my mind when I read this. In the Bible, the right hand is the special place of honor. If you have God’s right hand it means you are favored. He will raise you up in victory, declare you a victor, and give you the place of honor in your relationship with Him. He is committed to 2021 being a victorious year for you, no matter what other conflicting plans Satan or someone else might have for you.

For 2021 I am urging all of us to not just read this verse but to embrace it and live it out with joy. When we do, we will be so different than the rest of the population, and that will surely get the attention of our family members, friends, and co-workers. Then when they ask us for the reason for our Hope, we can tell them.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15 NIV