11 January 2021Isaiah 43: 1-7
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. (v. 1)
When my daughters were little and afraid of something, I would take them in my arms and assure them of my love and God’s love for them, and then my husband Mark and I would pray together with them about their fears. Even if the circumstances didn't change, knowing they were loved helped to comfort them and make them feel secure.
The verses in today’s reading have been a real comfort to me at times in my life when I have felt overwhelmed by difficulties and troubles. In this passage, Isaiah is bringing comfort to the people of Israel and assuring them of God’s presence. The mention of passing through deep water (verse 2) would have reminded them of the crossing of the Red Sea and the River Jordan and the reference to walking through the fire unharmed was later fulfilled in the experience of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the Book of Daniel.
Note that it says "When you pass through the waters" and "When you walk through the fire"; not "If". It is inevitable in this fallen world that we will go through difficult and painful experiences. All of us, at some point, suffer loss, pain and disappointment, even without a global pandemic to contend with! At times of suffering in my own life I have often cried out to God in pain and desperation – sometimes clinging on to his promises as an act of will despite feeling that he is far away from me. This passage brings great comfort and hope to us and reminds us that God knows and loves us intimately and that we are precious. God promises us that despite the suffering, we do not need to fear, because God is with us in the deep waters and in the fire, and promises that we will not be overwhelmed by them as we rest in his love.
- Are you passing through ’deep waters’ or through 'the fire’ today? Do you need to hear God’s word of assurance that he is with you in these circumstances?
- In verse 1 exchange the words Jacob and Israel for your own name and read the passage again as a personal declaration to you. Hear God’s words of love and comfort in your difficulties.
Thank you, Lord, that you have promised to be with us when we pass through deep waters and when we walk through the fire of life’s difficulties. Thank you for your promise that we are never alone. We pray that you will calm our fears and enable us to walk in trust, hope and the strength you give and to share that comfort with others we meet today. Amen.