"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" (Isaiah 43:2).
Since the first bites of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, trials have become a natural, or expected, part of life. Rarely are they preferred, yet rarely are they not present. The nation of Israel had known more than their fair share of trials during their own travels through life. Many were of their own doing, yet many were allowed by God at the doing of selfish others. In Isaiah 43, God speaks of a time of Israel being chastised and rebuked for how they had fallen away when they access to the provision and protection of God through obedience. Because of the love of God, there would have to be lessons He allowed them to learn through the consequences of their actions, so that their focus could be restored as their hearts were being restored. Repentance, redemption, and restoration, however, would never serve them as "get out of jail free" cards nor would they inoculate them immune from future trials they would face.
One of the greatest tragedies among those who identify as followers of Jesus, usually in their early stages, is to believe that the closer you are to Jesus, the more impossible it is to face struggles and conflict in life. Turn on Christian television and wait long enough and you might find some preacher teaching that trials and tribulations are a part of the curse and those who choose to live under the blessings will not face them. God, however, told His chosen people, "You're going to face some stuff, but don't become anxious or overwhelmed. I'm going to get you through it."
As you choose to surrender fully and follow Jesus, you will find three major promises in life that God gave to His own people in Isaiah 43.
1. You will face struggles. There is no denying it. You live in a world where natural perfection is no more. Perfection is now a product of the inner workings of God. He uses the imperfect to work that perfection in you. And so for now, you live in a world where you will face struggles, trials, problems, hardships, and the like. You will face through the waters of overwhelming situations. You will feel as though you are backed into a corner with nowhere else to go. There will be times where it seems as though you are following God but find the ocean in front of you and the enemy army fast approaching you from behind. Facing the struggle does not mean you are not in the will of God. It doesn't mean that His hand of protection or that His Divine favor has lifted from you. It means that you are living in the first part of that promise. But in that, never forget that He is the God that has said that He will NEVER leave your NOR forsake you. He is YOUR faithful God. He is YOUR protection and provision on the road to where He has called you, no matter what you may face on that journey.
2. You will get through them. There are many times in life where it would be so much more preferable to cry out to God and have Him miraculously reach into the pit of the problem and pull you out. Though that has been the case many times and very well be the method God uses at times in your life, it will not be the norm. Rather, you will face the struggle and He will give you all that you need to push on through. He will give you His presence. He will guard you in His peace. He will provide you with strength. He will point you in every right direction. When you face the waters, you will pass through them. Your situation does not have the legal authority to keep you out of the favor and direction of God. Your problem does not have the legal right to forbid you to pass through what you're going through. If you don't know the truth of that, then you will give into the daunting appearance of the problem. Knowing the truth, however, will give you a Godly perspective and the faith to know that what you're facing is now, but it is not later. You are going through this. You are passing through these waters. They may rise above your head, but you will not be drowned in these waters. You are not going under. You're going though.
3. You have been called. In verse 1, God speaks encouragement that would provide the framework for verse 2. "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine." "I'VE SUMMONED (CALLED) YOU BY NAME." Isolation through discouragement and imagination is a spiritual weapon used by the enemy to overwhelm and overpower you. If he can distract your focus, he can stop your faith. But you have been called by name. You are the chosen possession of God. He is the author of your destiny and He is calling you to some things you'd rather not face, but you are HIS. You are going to get through, pass through, overcome, conquer, and succeed all that attempts to stand in your way. The enemy has no legal right to stand in your way and stop you. Why? Because you have been called by One with greater authority. Your name has been issued by the One who created you and all things. Your calling is not contingent on the struggles you face or those who try to stand in the way. Your calling is irrevocable by human standards and by the attacks of the enemy. Your name has been given.
When you know who you are in Him, You will know the promises of His own heart that will empower you today and throughout all that you face. You will face the struggles. You will get through. You have been called.