A Mighty Promise Of God To Comfort Us In Hard Times

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. Isaiah 43:2

This is one of my favorite Scriptures. In context, Isaiah is speaking to Israel when they were in captivity to the Babylonians. In chapter 42, God told Israel that they were in captivity because of their spiritual “blindness” and “deafness” – they had seen God’s power and heard God’s word, yet failed to obey him and sinned against him, so now they found themselves “trapped in holes and hidden in prisons,” and plundered. He says:

Hear, you deaf, and look, you blind, that you may see! Who is blind but my servant, or deaf as my messenger whom I send? Who is blind as my dedicated one, or blind as the servant of the LORD? He sees many things, but does not observe them; his ears are open, but he does not hear. The LORD was pleased, for his righteousness’ sake, to magnify his law and make it glorious. But this is a people plundered and looted; they are all of them trapped in holes and hidden in prisons; they have become plunder with none to rescue, spoil with none to say, “Restore!” Isaiah 42:18-22

But though Israel had been a blind and deaf servant of God, in chapter 43 he tells them:

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. Isaiah 43:1

Though Israel had blown it big-time, God gives them the best news: he had redeemed them. He had called them by name. They belonged to him. And because of this glorious news he promised: 

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. Isaiah 43:2

What a promise! Notice that God did not promise that they would never suffer. In fact he said they would pass through waters and rivers and fire. Yet he promises that when they would go through hard times he would be with them. And their afflictions would not overwhelm them, harm them or destroy them.

Despite their failures God redeemed them and called them by name. He said, “You are mine.” They did nothing to deserve God to redeem them and make them his own. But he did. And because they were now his own, he would never forsake them and always protect them.

This is a wonderful picture of how God saves us and delivers us.

All of us sinned against God. Like Israel, we were blind and deaf. And we were trapped in holes and hidden in prisons of sin, plundered by Satan with no one to rescue. Yet our God redeemed us by the blood of Jesus, called us by name, and made us his own. And because of that, like his promise to be with Israel through thick and thin, he makes the same promise to us!

Let’s look at Isaiah 43:2 again. First God says,

“When you pass through the waters” and “when you walk through fire.” 

God doesn’t say “IF you pass through the waters,” or “IF you walk through fire,” but “WHEN…”

In other words, all believers will go through afflictions of various kinds. 

For example, Acts 14 says that Paul and Barnabas…

“returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:21-22

James says:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

Jesus himself said:

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

We who believe in Jesus will suffer in various ways in this life. BUT we are not to be dismayed. Rather we should “take heart” because Jesus has overcome the world and everything it can throw at us, AND, as he promises in Isaiah, “I will be with you.”

And because Jesus will always be with us, the rivers, shall not overwhelm us; and the fires of life will not burn us or consume us. Isaiah 43:2

In Hebrews 13:5 God tells us:

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

No matter what we have to go through, Jesus will be there with us, to strengthen us, comfort us, help us. We may not always feel like he is with us, but he has promised to be with us and God never lies or fails to keep his word.

What a promise! The Creator of the universe, the one who made the rivers, the one who spoke to the wind and waves and they obeyed him, will always be with us. He will never take his eyes off us. He never takes a break.

Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. Psalm 121:4

Fix your eyes upon Jesus! Whether you sense him with you or not, he is there.

Call out to him. Cast all your cares upon him! As Peter tells us…

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

So do not be surprised when you pass through waters and walk through fire. Remember, God said, “WHEN you pass through the rivers,” not “IF.” Don’t be surprised. But WHEN you do go through hard times, remember Jesus is with you. The Good Shepherd has his eyes upon you and will protect you and sustain you and deliver you.

What a wonderful Savior we serve! Let’s thank him today and every day for his unceasing faithfulness and steadfast love.

I posted a YouTube video of a Scripture memory song of Isaiah 43:2 to help people memorize this passage. If you would like to check it out and memorize this Scripture just click here: http://bit.ly/2kQwAZw

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.

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