“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
Have you ever been in a “near death” situation? When I was in junior high school, my Boy Scout troop in Greenwood, SC went on a tubing trip down the Green River (which is not far from Greystone). One of the scary things about the trip to the Green River is going down Green River Cove Road.
The road is essentially an endless set of blind switchbacks that leads from the ridge above to the valley below in a very short distance. During one trip, I was riding in a van with 12 other guys and we started going down the road. As you can imagine, a van full of 12 guys and gear is pretty heavy and about halfway down the brakes on the old van failed in one of the switchbacks.
The van I was in careened towards the edge of one of the switchbacks but by the grace of God we were saved when the rear axle got caught on some large rocks. Looking back, I am still amazed that we did not fall over the side.
In this passage, God reminds Israel that he has chosen to redeem them even though they deserved punishment for turning away from Him. Israel deserved to careen off the cliff but God protected them because He loved them and wanted to rescue them.
He reminds them that even during the difficult times, He will always be with them and protect them from ultimate harm. They do not need to fear because God has called them by name and made them His.
Christians will face trials like everyone else but will be able to get through them like no one else because of God’s faithfulness to them. In this sense, when we feel like the water is going to overtake us, we need to remember that God is in the boat with us.