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 Saviour. (Isaiah 43:2–3)
There are those who think that Christianity gives an escape from any kind of difficulty. It’s blessings all the way, and health and wealth are guaranteed. When the harsh reality of life hits, then it must be some problem with you. You mustn’t have enough faith, or have let down God in some way. Suffering shouldn’t be the path for Christians, so it must be your fault.
Fortunately this thinking is entirely wrong. In these few verses from Isaiah we find the key to the Christian’s experience of life. God doesn’t make a bridge over the river for us to walk on, but we must go on through. There isn’t a path round the fire, we just have to go on through. We go on though, but we don’t go on through alone. “I will be with you” says God. We don’t escape, but we do have help. Do notice that the verse beings “when” and not “if”!
Right at the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew, when Joseph has his dream, he was told to name Jesus “Immanuel, which means, God with us” (Matthew 1:23). The same Gospel ends with the words of Jesus: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). This presence of God is the great theme of the gospel, and the great experience of the Christian. The very Spirit of God dwells in the believer, and leads us through waters and fire.
When you experience difficulties, then do remember this verse and use it as a prompt to prayer. Allow the presence of God to give you courage. You are not alone, for “I will be with you” says the Lord.