“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.”
Comfort from God does not only come to us after our trial has come to an end, or after we have accepted that it may never end (in this life), but rather, the comfort of God’s presence is with us during our times of grief and loss. The realization of God’s presence is not determined by our emotions, but by embracing scriptural promises by faith, promises like the one quoted above.
These gracious words fell from the lips of the prophet during a time when Israel needed 152 hope the most. In the thought development of his book, Isaiah had already confronted God’s people for their ritualistic, empty worship, idolatry, and pride. As a result of her sin, and God’s loyal, chastening love, they were eventually exiled far from the Promised Land. But God had not abandoned them. So, in Isaiah 40–55, the comfort of God was brought to his people through authoritative promises. One of the most soothing of these is “I will be with you.”
This promise, and the lessons that the Old Testament people of God learned, are meant to bring great comfort to you, too: “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). So, whether your particular trial feels like you are abandoned, passing through raging waters which threaten to overwhelm you, or walking through fire which threatens to consume you, God is with you! You are not alone. This is a promise on which you can count. Cling to it!
More than that, promises like these redirect the focus of your faith to the Savior. Why? 153 Because Christ, the Isaiah 53 servant, is central to the comfort which Isaiah brings to God’s people. Even though this promise was given first to God’s covenant nation, it contains truth that transcends time, and is for every believer in Jesus, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him” (2 Corinthians 1:20).
Emotion is an unreliable guide to faith. Don’t get me wrong. Your emotions are important, especially since God created them, but he never intended for them to be your guide. Instead, you need to learn to live in the land of promise. What better promise is there to cling to in times of grief and loss than this one: “I will be with you”? You may want to meditate on John 15:4–11.
[This devotional is from A Small Book for the Hurting Heart.]