I remember a family outing to a state park when I was young, and the fun my older brothers and I had jumping from a rock ledge into the deep blue lake. My still-younger sister was not so convinced of our delight, preferring to hang back with my mother and pick daisies in the meadow– until my father scooped her up in his strong arms. Resistant and fearful as she was, he assured, “I have you,” and jumped in, holding her tight. Safe was she, still clutching her droopy flowers when they emerged from the water.
“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. You are precious in my eyes, and I love you. Fear not, for I am with you.” Isaiah 43:1-3,5
As beloved friends face heart-wrenching challenges with family, significant health crises, and tenuous or gloomy futures, the comfort and hope and prescription to allay fear is not that the trials can be avoided or will disappear, but that You love us and are with us. That iis enough.
“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent Word! What more can He say than to you He hath said, to you, who for refuge, to Jesus hath fled?
Fear not, I am with thee; O be not dismayed, for I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.
When through the deep waters I call thee to go, the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
for I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless, and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose I will not, I will not desert to his foes;
that soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!”
–Robert Keen (1787)
God, in the presence of our enemies and when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, You are with us, You hem us in behind and before, Your rod and staff comfort us, Your goodness and mercy follow us. Thank you, in uncertain and unstable times, for these good and unshakeable promises. (Psalm 23:4-6; 139:5)