Thursday, February 15, 2018

Waters, Rivers, Fire and Flames

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

As I was reading through Isaiah the other day, some words struck me about God being with the children of Israel during difficult times. They’re found in chapter 43, and they seemed to be redundant at first: “When you pass through watersand through rivers,” and, “When you walk through the firenor shall the flame…”

Waters, rivers, fire, and flames, are all images of hardships facing the children of Israel. I referred to some Rabbinical writings and one Rabbi’s words brought it together for me. In essence he called waters and fire general hardships, and rivers and flame specific hardships. He distinguished the general hardships that everyone faces and the specific trials that individuals suffer. 

An example of a general hardship might be like a couple of years ago here in California when gas prices were at $5.00 per gallon. EVERYONE suffered that trial. An individual hardship may be like someone I know who lost their job and, eventually, their house. The language of Isaiah distinguishes between what we suffer together and what we suffer alone. 

The joy of joys in all this is the fact that God promised to be present during all of it. He wouldn’t pass by yearly and say, “I’m here now, be blessed.” No! The main idea is that, at the precise moment of hardship, God is present! The Psalmist knew this too. He said, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” [34.18].

Fire and flames by nature are hot, very hot. Our trials feel that way too. Since God is with us, the fire won’t burn you, nor the flames consume you. 

Waters and rivers by nature are wet and, often, deep. But, God is with us so, they will not overwhelm you. My take on this is, you may get neck-deep, but you’re not going to drown. After all, as Isaiah said, “the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” is always with you!

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

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