Faith is not always a leisurely walk by still waters. The world is more like the valley of the shadow of death! This requires a boldness that is not often acted upon.
Boldness is often thought of in terms of speaking confidently, as the disciples were enabled to do by the Holy Spirit in Acts 4:31. It is also thought of in terms of being enabled by grace to come before God’s presence, as in Hebrews 4:16 and 10:19. There is a boldness we might have in the day of judgment, per 1John 4:17. Proverbs 28:1 ties it to strength and fearlessness: “the wicked flee when no man pursueth, but the righteous are bold as a lion.”
But there is another aspect to boldness that you may not have considered: certainty. In Hebrews 13:5, it says, “For He hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” This is a tremendous promise that most of the church often fails to believe. In times of uncertainty, the cry is often, “Where is God?” And when we gather, the hope is that “God will meet with us,” as if He may or may not come. The truth, however, is that He is always here! He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
The understanding of this truth led the author of Hebrews to continue: “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (vs.6). That word, boldly, recently jumped out at me. How could the author be so bold to suggest that the Lord was helping the Hebrews, who were suffering reproaches and afflictions (Heb.10:33)? The gist of the book seems to indicate that the Jewish Christians were in danger of reverting back to the old religion in order to avoid the persecution that was coming against them. They had not yet resisted unto blood (Heb.12:4), but had need of patience, that they might not draw back unto perdition (see Heb.10:36-39).
Yet they were encouraged to say with boldness: “The Lord is my helper.” The Bible presents it as a certainty. Psalm 118:6 phrases it, The Lord is on my side. Sometimes we have to state these promises boldly in the face of the circumstances that are oppressing us. It is a bold thing to say, “The Lord is on my side” or “The Lord is my helper” when it seems at the time that you are receiving no help at all. It takes boldness to say, “I will not fear” to yourself when your knees are shaking!
How do we reconcile this “certainty” with the seeming hopelessness of uncertain situations?
The Big Picture
Quite often it is a matter of changing the outlook. It is easy to become self-absorbed and view everything as being defined by the “now.” This is how it works for babies. They cry and kick and scream if their needs aren’t met at the exact moment that they want them. They don’t know how to be content with what they have (Heb.13:5). They may cry over one broken toy while sitting in a room filled with toys. A man of faith may lose it and cry, “it doesn’t work,” when he fails to see an answer to prayer come forth. Yet he has forgotten all the other times it did work! He is so concentrated on the “now” that he has forgotten all the Lord has helped him with in the past. And he cannot see straight enough to understand that the Lord is helping him through to the future.
The truth is, he may be going through the fire right now, but he will not ultimately be burned (Isaiah 43:1-3). When it is all over, he won’t even have the smell of smoke on him (Daniel 3:27). Paul learned to delight even in his afflictions because they gave him something to boast about (see 2Cor.12). The power of God is not just seen in the miracles and immediate deliverances, it is seen in the progress of the spiritual life as well.
I have seen people who have gone through the hardest of times boasting about them later and using them almost as trophies of the grace of God. They got through their fires without even having their hair singed!
That doesn’t mean that it was easy or fun. That doesn’t mean there weren’t tears or pain. But it all eventually passed. I’m sure Paul did not sense victory or joy while he was floating on boards shipwrecked at sea, or while he was hungry or naked (see 2Cor.11:24-30). There were times he even despaired of life (2Cor.1:8). But all the while, the Lord was his helper. Paul was able to say the Lord delivered him out of them all (2Tim.3:11) and was confident of future deliverances: “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever” (2Tim.4:18).
It’s Not Over Yet
You may be struggling through a rough time right now. You may be concerned about your uncertain future. Thanks to Jesus, you can boldly say, “The Lord is on my side.” If it wasn’t true, He wouldn’t have died for you. See the big picture and be bold. God’s love for you is a certainty. He has brought you this far and He is not going to suddenly leave you or forsake you. This promise was originally spoken to Israel in Deuteronomy 31:6,8, and to Joshua in Josh.1:5. The Lord gave it to them in order to brace them for the challenges ahead. He told Joshua to be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest (Joshua 1:9). That’s for us as well. It brings great peace to me when I remember that He is with me wherever I go. But I have to repeat that promise to myself often. The verse tells us that there will be cause for fear and discouragement, so we have been warned in advance. It is up to us to be strong and courageous. We can be knowing the certainty of His help and presence.
His help and presence will bring miracles and victories. When the miracles and victories seem far off, He is helping all the same. We have a testimony of God’s power toward us (Eph.1:19)– whether it is in a spectacular answer to prayer or whether it will show in a greater authority given through the trials we make it through.