When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2 NIV
Sometimes as we are going through trials, we seem frozen in time. It is like a malfunctioning clock with the minute hand spastically jumping back. We want to advance time forward, to leap beyond where we are, but we are stuck.
That is the state the Israelites were in. They had been in exile for years, and now they would be returning to a home that was a foreign land. Amid their anxiety, God speaks words of assurance through Isaiah, "Do not be afraid, for I am with you." (v. 5)
God recounts how he was with them as they crossed the Red Sea. (Exodus 14:21-22). He was there when the priests crossed the Jordan with the ark of the covenant. (Joshua 3:14-17). And God protected Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Nebuchadnezzar from the flames. (Daniel 3:12-27).
God had been with his beloved in the past, he was with them in this time of angst, and he would be with them in the future. He was their God, and they were his people.
As God's beloved today, we have the same promise. "The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8). In those spastic hand-jumping times, take heart; God is with us. We can look back upon our times of deliverance in the past with the assurance he is with us now and into the future.
God, thank you for the times you've led us through the water and flame. You are with your beloved now, walking beside us through every test and trial. We are confident you will be with us to face whatever is ahead, showing us the same compassion, grace, and love. Amen.