Where Is God In Your Trials?
Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Isaiah 43:4-5
When a friend of more than 40 years was felled with a rather severe case of pneumonia and struggled to regain his health, a pastor called and told him that surely he had sin in his life and if he would only confess and forsake his wrongdoing, then God would heal him. It sounds much like some of the advice that good old Job got from his friends, too. But, as they say, with friends as that, who needs enemies?
The reality is that we are living in an imperfect world, one where good people suffer and where, at times, bad people seem to stay healthy. But wait, life has a way of equalizing the footing. In other words, God keeps score, and that’s very good news. Isaiah looked about him and recognized that there are no exemptions from being fully human. He recorded God’s message: “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. For I am the LORD, your God” (Isaiah 43:1-3). Notice that Isaiah began each thought with the word when, not if. When means it’s eventually going to happen, so you had better be prepared.
First, Isaiah spoke of the depth of your trial—the deep waters. If you have ever taken a walking stick and tried to cross a turbulent river where the water was swift and the rocks were slippery, and you couldn’t see where the deep holes were, you understand that is how recovery can be from an illness, or a financial disaster, or a broken relationship. At any moment you are apt to be swept off your feet and carried downstream-or you stumble, uncertain of your footing. That’s the way it often is, getting through your trial.
Then Isaiah mentioned the turbulence of your trial. The rivers won’t drown you. The word is plural. It means there will be more than a few challenges before you knock on heaven’s door; but paraphrasing what he said, “You’re going to make it.” As a friend says, “You may not look like much when you get there, but you’re gonna make it.”
Finally, he speaks of the intensity of your trial—you will go through the fire but you won’t be burned. Good news! Why? Because of what God has promised. Like what? Today’s commentary gives me only time to mention six great promises or reasons for rejoicing in the time of trials. You will find them all in Isaiah 43 of your Old Testament.
First God says, “I will be with you.” It matters little what you face when you know He is alongside to guide, comfort, and sustain.
“The river will not drown you,” He says.
“You will not be burned.” Remember the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace? The God who delivered them will take you through your trial as well.
God says, “You are precious in my sight.” Think about that for a moment. What makes something precious? Diamonds are said to be precious stones, but something that is precious usually comes with an emotional attachment. What may be precious to someone else may be junk to you. This means God cares about you.
God says, “You are honored.” That’s what grace is about—what God does for you that you don’t deserve.
Finally God said, “I love you!” Wow! That’s the entire message of the New Testament in three words. “I…love…you!” “No” you say, “not me!” While you may not understand why—I don’t—that’s the positive statement of this book. It’s why God sent His Son to provide a way of forgiveness and cleansing and hope. It’s the best news this side of heaven.
Scripture reading: Isaiah 43:1-13