“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:2 NLT)
So often when I read this scripture, I focus on the second half of each statement… you will not drown; you will not be burned up. But today what jumped out at me is the FIRST half of each statement.
This scripture passage promises safety, yes, but it does not promise safety because of a trouble-free journey. It’s quite the opposite. In fact, this scripture is as much a warning as it is a promise. The Lord says WHEN you go through deep waters, WHEN you pass through difficult rivers, WHEN you walk through fire. Not IF you do these things.
This is a warning—a Heavenly heads up—that if we follow Him, if we walk with Him through life, then trouble WILL come. But when it does, God will protect us. “In the world you will have trouble but take heart I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Following Jesus will put us on a narrow way. It will separate us from the crowd. It will lead us against the current of the masses. When we follow Jesus, we disrupt the flow. We make waves. And, then, not surprisingly, we will find ourselves in turmoil and trouble.
This scripture passage promises great things—huge miracles, like walking through fire unscathed. But it’s clear that these particular miracles will only happen in times of trouble. That means, if I avoid the trouble, I avoid the miracle. If I avoid the water and the fire, I avoid the rescue. If I stop walking at the bank of the river or the edge of the fire, I stop short of His blessing. Because this is a blessing that I have to walk into. It will not come to me. It lies in the depth of turmoil like a diamond in the pit of a volcano. There’s only one way to receive it: that is, to GO after it.
That’s not to say God doesn’t offer protection for everyone who calls out to Him, even those on the edge of the bank. Because He does. But there are certain graces and blessings and powers that God reserves as a reward for great faith and courage. Those blessings He does not “give” to His people. He “presents” them to His people. And we go and get them.
The Lord says, “be not afraid” so that we will continue on. So that we will go forward and keep walking in His will, even when we fear trouble lies ahead. The sign of trouble is not always an indicator that the path is the wrong way, or that we need to stop walking. On the contrary. Sometimes trouble is an indicator that we are going the right way and God is about to display His power and might in a mighty way.
Sometimes we stop walking because the trouble ahead seems too difficult. Sometimes it seems downright impossible. All the while, God is calling us forward to a deeper level of faith and trust. “All things are possible with God.” (Matthew 19:26)
The Lord is calling us out of a passive and mediocre faith life, into a vibrant and active faith life. He’s presenting us with a choice. We can settle for the safety of the bank... or we can plunge into the safety of His Hands.
Living in His Hands is an altogether different kind of experience. It’s like spiritual white water rafting. It’s sometimes scary, often bumpy, but always exhilarating.
And, friend, it’s the only way to cross over into that next level.
So, are you coming with me? Are you going move forward today into that area of life that seems too difficult? Are you going to step off the bank and trust the Word of God that promises you will not drown?
Ok, then. Grab a paddle and let’s do this.