In his book, Anxious for Nothing, Max Lucado takes this passage as an example of how not to be anxious. He examines Paul’s statement at the end of the passage and breaks it apart.
“You should have listened to me…” Sometimes the right thing to do is to stand and face God’s rebuke. Did you realize God rebukes us sometimes? When our anxiety is due to our sinfulness, God rebukes us. When we are facing the consequences of our sinful actions, God rebukes us. “You should have listened to Me…” God says, and He’s right. But knowing our loving God well tells us that the rebuke is neither hateful, wrathful, or dangerous for us. It is loving if stern, and ultimately for our own good.
“Keep your courage…” Max encourages us, which literally means “to make courageous”. God’s reminder in our anxiety is to remain, regain, or find courage. And this is easier when we know our loving God who has power over storms and sicknesses and anything else that may come our way. While not promising to deliver us from everything we face, God does promise to be with us, and that is reason enough for courage.
“And angel stood beside me…” God is active and at work in this world. And God’s plans will not be foiled. When God calls us to a task for Him, that task will not go undone if we refuse. He will simply call someone else to do it instead and we’ll miss out on the opportunity to be part of God’s plan. And if that is not rebuke enough, then we need to be sure we’re truly following God.
“We must run aground…” Sometimes the solution to our sin-made problem brings hardship. God’s forgiveness does not negate the effects of our sinfulness. Sin has consequences. I can forgive my son Isaac for jumping in the puddle when I tell him not to, but he will still have a wet foot. The good news is that we can face those consequences because we know that God walks with us as we do.