It is often said that the phrase ‘Do not be afraid’ is found 365 times in the Bible:- one for every day of the year.
One of those times is in Isaiah 43 vs1-3
“But now this is what the Lord says—
He who created you, O Jacob.
He who formed you, O Israel.
‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you.
I have summoned you by name, you are mine.”
Our creator, redeemer Lord tells us not to be afraid!
But then, the Prophet gives two illustrations.
1) “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.”
This was a reference to the Hebrews crossing the Red Sea and the Jordan River.
2) “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 Saviour.”
A potent reminder of Daniel Chapter 3 where Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow down the golden image and for their faithfulness to the Lord were cast into the Fiery Furnace.
Please note, we are told ‘When’ you pass through the waters. ‘When’ you walk through the fire. Not ‘If’. Believing people are not exempt from trial and suffering. In-fact we are guaranteed it. Painful experiences for the Christian are inevitable.
The promise though is that even in the middle of the severe trial, God’s people are assures of the Saviour’s presence.
Growing up, I vividly remember a lino cut my father made. It was of the Fiery Furnace. Dad got me to look hard to see who or what were in the flames.
“When through fiery trials your pathway shall lead,
His grace shall sustain you with all that you need;
The flames shall not hurt you – His only design
Your dross to consume and your gold to refine.”
Whatever our trials or troubles , hold on to this glorious promise of Christ’s presence and His long-term good purposes of grace.