The Comfort of God’s Presence in Trials – The Bible in Lent: Day 24
Isaiah’s words have often been a comfort to me in hard times. While it often convicts me of my negligence for the things of the Lord and my heart’s proclivity to wander after lesser things, it also always reminds me of the deep hope I have even in the midst of trials.
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.” – Isaiahs 43:1-2, RSVCE
This passage has reminds me again and again of the hope we have in knowing that God is active and present, not distant or unaware of our trials.
But it also reminds me that trials along my journey are not expected.
When you pass through the waters…
When you walk through the fire…
I wish these passages said if instead of when but the passage is a preparatory one, not a hypothetical one.
There have been and no doubt will be again seasons of treacherous waters and flames in my life. This passage doesn’t tell me that these things should be ignored or minimized, they tell me that God will walk alongside me and keep me from being consumed by them.
I may struggle past the waves, but I will not be overwhelmed. The fires may burn me, but I will not be consumed because my God, the God who formed me, walks with me.
It is easy for me to assume that God is distant, that He is too busy or sovereign to care about the plights of a girl in Michigan struggling through the waves. But it is not in God’s nature to be distant, but rather a very present help in all of our troubles.
Sometimes, I think it is easier to stuff down the assumption that God doesn’t see because if God does see, it means He hasn’t intervened. And it hurts to know God sees and yet allows the pain of unanswered prayers and unmet dreams.
But He doesn’t promise to calm every storm, but He does promise to be there with us.
He isn’t distant, hardened to our tears, He is in the midst of the trial, facing the water, braving the flames we are walking through.
Our trials may not be removed, they may be expected, but we are not the only ones pressing on through the hard.
The God who made us, who formed our inmost being, has promised that He will always be with us. He doesn’t back away when it is messy or terrifying, He is still there protecting us.
Later in Isaiah, a passage of God’s remembrance points to the Immanuel, the one who would enter into suffering on my behalf and rescue me from the eternal flames.
I will not forget you. Behold, I have graven you on the palms of my hands – Isaiah 49:15-16, RSVCE
We are graven in the palms of the only one who will carry scars into eternity. The one who was willingly pierced for our transgressions and carried the weight of our sin.
The God who put on flesh dwelt in our midst bringing healing and hope.
We do not serve a God who is distant, we serve a God who is actively loving and caring for His children. And no matter what battle I see on the horizon, I am comforted in the fact that there is nothing I will face alone.