Written by Jolene DeHeer
One of the things I have noticed during this time of dealing with the COVID 19 pandemic, is that scripture passages I have read hundreds of times before, have studied and taught and spoken on, suddenly take on a deeper, richer significance.
One such passage that has been rich source of hope and strength for me ever since I came to know Christ is Isaiah 43:1-3a, “But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…”
I do not have adequate language to describe what an impact the words, “I have called you by name and you are mine,” have had in my life.
For so many years I was burdened by the names the evil one spoke into my life that became the definition who I thought I was: worthless, unwanted, ugly. But then I met Jesus Christ and he called me by name. There is something infinitely poignant about someone knowing your name…especially when they speak it with great love. He not only knew my name, but also gave me a new name, child of the king: beloved, precious daughter who has been created, formed, and summoned by God. To this day I repeat those cherished words every time the evil one tries to speak lies into me.
But those weren’t the words that caught my attention this time.
There are actually two words that are repeated three times each in the following verses. The first word is “WHEN.” There are those who preach and believe what is called the “prosperity gospel” that teaches if you follow Christ, you will know nothing but blessings. But these verses don’t say “if you go through,” they say “when.”
Just because we are Christ followers doesn’t mean we will be spared heartache and trials. We will go through deep waters, raging rivers, and dangerous fires. In fact, many Christians are experiencing that with this pandemic. They may have lost loved ones or friends to the virus, lost jobs, lost opportunities, and even lost hope. Times of great trial will come. None of us is immune. But there is hope!
That hope if found in the second word, “THROUGH.”
Notice each situation has an ending because we will come through the deep waters, raging rivers, and dangerous fires of adversity. This pandemic is far more devastating than any of us thought at first. We thought we would shelter in place for a few weeks and then go on with our lives, but weeks have become months. The truth is this world will not be the same. However, we will emerge from this stronger, wiser, and hopefully more compassionate. This will end.
The prayer is that when it does, people will not go back to worshiping at the altar of prosperity and self-centeredness but be drawn to THE ONE who brought us through and worship Him alone. May we all be more grateful for God’s providential care, more aware of those who are hurting, more passionate about building God’s kingdom.
How can we be sure we will get through this you make ask? Well, verse 3a answers that, “For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…” Because God is the great I AM. Because He in the Holy One. Because He is our Savior. Because His love, power, and grace are beyond our understanding.
So, my friends, if you are weary of this quarantine situation like I am, hold on the promise that God will get you “THROUGH!”