It’s been a rough week here in our household. We’ve spent more time than we’d hoped in pungent hospital waiting rooms (you’d recognize the smell anywhere: a mingling of antiseptic, burnt coffee, and crumbling paint) and on the cold plastic chairs of specialists’ exam rooms. And it’s not going to get easier any time soon.
You know how that goes – because you’ve been there (or perhaps are there), too.
That’s why this Scripture promise from the mouth of God has been extra meaningful to me this week:
But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life” (Isaiah 43:1-4; ESV).
I really don’t like that one word that keeps cropping up in the passage: when. God doesn’t say, if the waters threaten to flood you out; if you find yourself walking through fire or if flames come close to you. It’s that pesky when. These things do come close to us—they do touch our households, our loved ones, our own bodies. It’s a reality and a certainty—it’s going to happen. The question is how we’re going to make it through.
For followers of Christ, the comfort is in the companionship. It is in Who has called us by name, Who wades into the waters and Who walks alongside us to keep our feet from sliding on mossy rocks, Who knows where the invisible sand pits cut into the slimy river bed, and Who pledges to keep us from falling into them.
Like He did for the three Hebrew youths in the king’s triple-hot furnace, Christ Himself will be for us the fourth man right in there with us keeping the fire’s flames from kindling on us. I love that scene, told in Daniel 3. Because, although God allowed the fires near His faithful followers, when (I like this use of when much better!) He brought them out of the furnace, their clothes weren’t even singed—they didn’t even have the smell of smoke lingering in their hair. Their faith rings in my ears:
“Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18; NASB).
The similarity between Daniel 3’s action and Isaiah 43’s promise brings me comfort in the assurance that God will again be true to His Word—Fear not! … I will be with you. He has the means to follow through on His promise, and the inclination (because He loves us and because He formed us and called us His own) to do so. What He says, He will do.
It’s something to cling to when the flood of waiting and fires of uncertainty threaten to overwhelm us.
I’m holding onto that hope today; and I pray you are, as well.
Blessings and prayers,
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