In The Phantom of the Opera, Raoul comforts Christine, singing, “No more talk of darkness, forget these wide-eyed fears.” Our Heavenly Father, who is our “refuge and strength,” (Psalm 46:1) promises us even more than that when he says, “fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand” (Isaiah, 41:10). Jesus, likewise, assures us, “I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Matt. 28:20).
Our Heavenly Father knows we need to hear those consoling words, “I am with you.” He repeats them over and over. Similarly, “fear not” is stated 365 times in Scripture! “Fear not, for I am with you,” (Genesis 26:24; Isaiah 43:5). Raoul reassures Christine, “I’m here, nothing can harm you, my words will warm and calm you.” Our Heavenly Father soothes our fears by saying, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
Raoul offers solace, “I’m here, with you beside you, to guard you and to guide you.” God is not only with us, he says, “For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you'” (Isaiah 41:13). In the New American Bible, it says, “grasp your right hand.” He not only holds it but he holds our hand firmly and securely with his power and might to calm us and console us to let us know that he is in charge. He is “Abba, Father!” (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6). Not only does he grasp our hand, he has permanently marked us on the palm of his hands. “yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have graven you on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:16).
Christine, frightened pines, “All I want is freedom, a world with no more night; and you, always beside me, to hold me and to hide me.” Jesus is the “the way, and the truth and the light” (John 14:6). Jesus said, “‘I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). The light of Christ dispels all darkness. “The Light shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).
David, the author of the Psalms, is also afraid but he knows that God is with him. He cries out to God, “O LORD, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying to me, there is no help for him in God” (Psalms 3:1-2). Even though that sounds despairing, David continues in confidence, “But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head” (Psalms 3:3). David goes from fear to confidence to rejoicing! “I cry aloud to the LORD, and he answers me from his holy mountain” (Psalms 3:4).
Not only does Christine wish for night to go away, she wishes Raoul to always be with her. In the St. Patrick Breastplate prayer, we ask Christ to be with us also.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ in me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise
St. Patrick not only wants Christ to always be with him, he wants Christ to completely surround him. This is a very abridged version of his prayer. St. Patrick knew the power of Christ to overcome all spiritual adversity, especially in converting the pagans of Ireland, who wanted to eliminate him.
Raoul begs and assures Christine, once again, “Let me be your shelter, let me be your light; you’re safe, no one will find you, your fears are far behind you.” Our Heavenly Father in his solicitous love promises even more. David confidently proclaims, “O LORD my God, in you I take refuge” (Psalms 7:1). Why? “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? ” (Psalms 27: 1) “For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent” (Psalms 27: 5).
In Handel’s choral masterpiece Messiah, “Comfort ye, My people,” based on Isaiah 40:1-2, the soloist sings, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people.” Perhaps the most often quoted Bible verse instilling comfort in times of distress is The Divine Shepherd, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalms 23:4).
If you really want to know how immense is Our Heavenly Father’s love, do a Bible verse word search for peace, light, comfort, fear not, refuge, shelter, and I am with you, there are so many passages of encouragement I cannot even begin to reference them all. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, who abides in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.’ For he will deliver you” (Psalm 91:1).
Raoul and Christine each sing, “All I ask for is one love, one lifetime,” God offers us something more, the gift of eternal life. In John, we read, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36). Why is that? Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29).
At the end of their duet, they each request of the other, “Love me, that’s all I ask of you.” Human love is a peek into the vast love of Our Heavenly Father’s love. His love is far greater. He reminds us, “I have loved you with an everlasting love”(Jeremiah 31:3). “Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you” (Isaiah 43:4). He can never tell us enough how many times he loves us.
Most people may be familiar with the quote from Padre Pio, “Pray, hope and don’t worry.” For those trapped by guilt of the past or worried about the future, he also said, “My past, O Lord, to Your mercy; my present, to Your love; my future to Your providence.”
The popular prayer by St. Teresa of Avila also grants peace and tranquility.
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.
Padre Pio also offers hope when he says, “Don’t tire yourself with things that cause anxieties, perturbation and worries. Only one thing is necessary, to lift up your spirit and love God.” One of the best ways to do that is to “dwell in the house of the Lord,” meditating on his incredible love, “to behold the beauty of the LORD” (Psalm 27:4) by loving our Heavenly Father, who loves us so much. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27).
Now go back to your favorite quote, any quote and every time you feel anxious, stressed out, fearful, say it with conviction and confidence. “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).