How to Keep Dismay at Bay

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NIV

Dismay. The word caught my eye as did God’s instructions through Isaiah, “do not be.”

“Overwhelm” or “anxiety” may be more familiar than the biblical word “dismay.” Either way, dismay moved in for a few weeks this summer when we had the entire interior of our house painted. Both stories. That meant moving twenty years of stuff. 

I work from a home office. Most days, it’s just me and the dog. My husband travels weekly and when he’s away, the house is quiet. Silence and order help this introvert focus and allow creativity to flow. 

Enter a crew of painters with boombox and sprayers. 

Half of the house was in boxes, and we shoved them from room to room as the painters worked through each floor. Thankfully, our new puppy, Blaze, was at school. 

Did I mention the fumes? I pushed the new novel I was plotting to August because I couldn’t see through the brain fog. 

Dismay? Yes. For weeks. 

My husband’s home office took priority, so we got him up to speed as soon as they finished it. 

My workspace shifted depending on whether the painters worked upstairs or down. 

By Week 3, my nerves were fried, and I’d developed a hacking cough from the paint. Thankfully, my sweet critique group prayed over me. God knew I had hit my limit, and the painters finished ahead of schedule. I savored the silence. 

Dismay might visit you too. But don’t kid yourself. He wants more than a visit. Isaiah reminds us we don’t have to give him entry. 

“Do not be dismayed . . .”

1. “Do not be dismayed . . . for I am your God.” Remember Who’s in charge. Comparing your issue to the Almighty and His abilities brings perspective. Like comparing the Grand Canyon to the hole your toddler dug in his sandbox. Gideon experienced dismay in the face of his calling. God reminded him that His presence was what mattered, “‘Pardon me, my lord,’ Gideon replied, ‘but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.’ The Lord answered, ‘I will be with you (Judges 6:15-16).’” 

When you take your dismay to God in prayer, thank Him that you are not alone.

2. “Do not be dismayed . . . I will strengthen you.” God doesn’t always remove the cause of the dismay. Instead, He increases your ability to deal with it. Nehemiah led the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls. He and his volunteer work crew faced enemy threats, economic hardship, and a lack of unity within the ranks. Nehemiah recounted, But I prayed, ‘Now strengthen my hands.’ . . . So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard about this . . . they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God (Nehemiah 6:9, 15-16).”

When you pray, ask God how He wants to deal with this.

3. “Do not be dismayed . . . and [I will] help you.” God promises not just strength, but also aid. Why? Because He’s interested in partnering with you. He’s all about relationship. We see this when David squared off against Goliath. Note each one’s part, “This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head . . . and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel . . . for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands (1 Samuel 17:46-47).”

When you pray, ask God to clarify what He is doing and what your responsibility is. 

4. “Do not be dismayed . . . I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Support. Backup. He’s got you. The right hand denotes a position of trust, strength, and honor. God reminded Joshua of His commitment to the new leader as Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land, “No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you (Joshua 1:5).”

 Once you have prayed and God has clarified His instructions, step out in God-confidence. 

In spite of the invasion by the paint crew, another author and I collaborated and completed a new manuscript. Truly a miracle. Peace and quiet has been restored and the house is almost back in order. 

Just in time for our new Malinois puppy to come home. Do not be dismayed. 

Q and A:

How does fear differ from dismay?

What triggers dismay for you? For your kids?

What dismay issues need processing? 

Have the family pray for and encourage each other. As God comes through, journal how He helped. 

Download free Isaiah 41:10 resources for elementary students and preschoolers: Devour the Bible. Here’s page 1 of the elementary version.

Photo 45831268 | House Boxes © Photographerlondon |

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