“I am with you” is the gift to anxious people. Our worries usually imply that we need someone—the right protector, the right fixer—who is close and is for us. Only those who know Jesus actually have that someone.
The challenge is that God’s closeness does not always seem to matter. Our anxieties want relief now, and God’s promises do not guarantee an easier life. He promises a full and abundant life, not an easy one. Confidence in Jesus does not act like a sedative.
Then, of course, there is the matter of the Lord not being available to our senses as flesh and blood. He is with you, but you have to rely on the sound of his voice in Scripture. As we listen, we come to know that Jesus is the hope of humanity, and his closeness is our only hope during fears and anxieties.
If repetition reveals enthusiasm, then the Lord is quite enthusiastic for you to know that he is close. God was close to his people before Jesus, but he is infinitely closer now that the forgiveness of sins has been accomplished and the Spirit brings us into Christ. And he is pleased to keep telling you.
- "Do not be afraid, for I am with you." (Gen 26:24)
- "Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you." (Deut 31:6)
- "Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me." (Isa 49:14–16)
- "And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matt 28:20)
- "The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything." (Phil 4:5–6)
These are a fraction of his reassurances. Though you might glaze over after hearing just a few of them, the Hebrew people heard something much more. In their language, repetition enhances the message. It charges the words with new power and importance. And it is meant to do that for us as well. By repeatedly telling us that God is near, Scripture invites us to focus, listen, imagine, believe.
The LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. (Ps 121:5–6)
He is close enough to shade you from the sun. He is actually pleased to be close. His closeness has been his plan from before creation, and he will carry it out.