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 NRSV
Israel, hotly pursued by Pharaoh's army, came to the Red Sea, a seemingly unsurpassable obstacle. God says to Moses, "lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand." (Ex. 14:16) In obedience, Moses does, and Israel crosses on dry land. In Daniel 3, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, refusing to worship King Nebuchadnezzar, are thrown into the fiery furnace. As the king and court peer into the flames, they see a fourth man "who has the appearance of a god." (v. 25) The three emerge unscathed, "the hair of their heads was not singed, their tunics were not harmed, and not even the smell of fire came from them" (v. 27)
There are times when all we can see are the obstacles–nothing but water ahead and flames around. We become overwhelmed, feeling like we will drown or be consumed. Surrounded by divisiveness, injustice, inflation, illness, plague, and war, we may be tempted to despair. But friends, even amid all of this, we serve a God who delivers. We have the promise that the Lord goes with us and will not fail nor forsake us. (De. 31:6)
Merciful and Mighty God, we give thanks for your promise of deliverance. In Jesus Christ, you freed us from the bondage of fear and slavery to sin and death. Through the Holy Spirit, you lead and guide us through times of water and flame. Help us when we begin to doubt, trust, recall your promise and find solace in your hope. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.