“When” Not “If”

Trouble, disappointments, disasters, sickness, pain, and the loss of someone close to us, will come at some point. If you have escaped such calamities at this juncture in your life, celebrate your blessings, and recognize it is only a matter of time until unwanted pain will come your direction. Scripture bears this out in many places. The famous Isaiah passage says it well.

“But now thus says the Lord,

He who created you, O Jacob,

    He who formed you, O Israel:

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

    I have called you by name, you are mine.

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.”

Isaiah 43:1-3 (ESV) 

In my younger years when viewing this passage, my interpretation automatically read “if you” rather than “when you.” I don’t think this was intentional, but a subconscious youthful approach to life that put me above the fray of misfortune that rained down upon others. The invincible, dare devilish, hard as nails mentality of youth directed my approach to life. 

When we are younger, we are a bit more Teflon coated; things slid off more easily. As we age, the Teflon is peeling away, and things stick a bit more. Amazing how age awakens us to the harsh realities of living. Death, disease, job loss, and economic downturns seem to hurt deeper because they get closer.  In another phase of life, we might breeze through more easily and with less wounding. 

The Isaiah passage lists some “when you” metaphoric junctures in life.

• Pass through the waters

• Walk through the fire

These crossings bring anxiety, fear, and distress. On the other hand, lies the promises in the passage. “I will be with you. You will not be overwhelmed. The fire will not burn or consume you.”

Some of life’s oppressive sufferings seem to beat upon us incessantly. The hammer like assault pounds down with ever increasing aggression until we feel flattened, deflated, …helpless. It is in those ever-tumultuous moments we remember the “when you” promises of this passage (and others throughout God’s Word) and draw strength to persevere.  

Many of you are experiencing various assaults these days: financial uncertainty, sickness of a loved one, your own sickness, death of a friend, aunt, uncle, cousin, father, mother or even a child. The anvil of depression amidst these anguishing moments beats harshly…but HOLD ON! God promises to be with you each moment! You will get through this! We all will.

With many prayers and love!

Pastor Keith

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