“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. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you” (Isaiah 43:2–5, esv).
God is present. He is with His children and especially near during trials. These verses from Isaiah refer to water and fire, which are images of hardship. Waters is a general term, while rivers is a specific term. Fire is general, while flame is specific. The language distinguishes between our collective trials and my individual hardship. Sometimes we all suffer together; sometimes we feel very alone in our pain. But the take-away from these verses is that you are never alone. God is with you in your specific trials—not just throughout a year or a month or a day but in an hour, in a minute, in a second! At the precise moment of hardship, God is present.
“At the precise moment of hardship, God is present.”
According to Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Not only is He near to us, but He also specifically measures our trials. He says, “When you walk through fire” (a picture of definite hardship) “you shall not be burned.” In other words, it might get really hot, and you might feel a certain amount of pain and discomfort, but God has His hand on the thermostat. He’s watching you in the fire; in fact, He’s right there with you in it.
It’s the same picture in the water. God says, “When you pass through the waters . . . and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you.” Consider this: What are you thinking about when you’re going through a river? When you’re neck-deep in water, you’re not worried about getting wet. You’re already wet. More likely you’re thinking, How deep is the water? How long can I touch the bottom? When your feet float up off the bottom, you might wonder, How long can I tread? But God tells us, in effect, “I’m watching the water level. I’m checking the intensity of the trial.”
You can trust Him. God is present and knows exactly what you’re facing, both the depth and the heat. Your greatest fear may be that you can’t endure the trial. But as a result of God’s presence, you are strengthened—and He promises that what you face will not overwhelm you. After all, He is “the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” And He is always with you.
Lord, when I’m experiencing trials, help me to look for You and at You, rather than focusing on my hardships with fear. Help me to accept that difficulty is part of Your itinerary for me and comes as no surprise to You. I know I can’t learn to trust unless I first pass through situations where my trust is tested and strengthened. So please continue to train me in Your perfect way, Father, and thank You that You are always with me. In Jesus’ name, amen.