Today's devotion from Isaiah 41. Do not fear. What is it that Israel is not to fear? We often comfort ourselves with the idea God's presence outshining any need to fear. Yet, when God tells Israel not to fear in this chapter, it is only after He has given them plenty of reason to be afraid. You see, God's work is sometimes painful.
In the first 7 verses of this chapter, God is speaking of His use of the Persian king, Cyrus. Cyrus will be sent to make nations like dust. He will be sent to subdue kings. God's righteousness compels Him to send Cyrus on this mission. It is part of His plan even though Israel will be filled with fear. It will be Cyrus that God uses to end their exile.
Knowing His people, God comforts, "You are my servant; I have chosen you; I haven't rejected you. Do not fear, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:9b-10, CSB) In other words, the Israelites are to trust God even when they aren't sure of the circumstances.
Sometimes, the very thing that is unknown to us and strikes fear in our hearts is only the next tool in the capable hands of the Lord. He describes His work like craftsmen hammering. Through the force of their blows, they are doing "good" and securing their work. Those without knowledge or understanding of their crafts may not see the precision and beauty in what they do, but the end result will be appreciated.
God is at work. Though we may not understand what He is doing or how He is accomplishing it, we must learn to trust Him. If we can do this, then we can encounter any situation, "good" or "bad," with certainty and confidence.