I can’t remember anything like this corona pandemic in my entire life.
I can’t imagine what it would be like to contract the virus or to have a loved one sick or die from it. So far, I haven’t had to endure anything other than staying in my house for a few days. I don’t know how long this will go on or how much it will spread. I hope it touches no one I know.
But even if the corona virus doesn’t touch me, I know this. I should not be surprised when I have to walk through fire in this life.
When I was a young Christian, I attended a Bible study where the pastor leading it taught that it was not God’s will that believers should ever be sick. That if you were sick it was because of your lack of faith. He said that we needed to “confess” we were healed. So one week when I got the flu, I began to confess over and over again, “I am healed. In Jesus’ name, I am healed.” I kept saying it over and over all day long, as I felt worse and worse. Finally, around 4 in the afternoon, I felt so bad I finally said, “I’m not healed. I am….SICK! Jesus, please help me!”
Christians get sick. Christians go through every kind of affliction. They suffer from depression and anxiety. They get cancer. Loved ones die. Children walk away from the Lord. If you have been a believer for any length of time, then you know what I am talking about.
Hey, what a cheerful blog post. But wait, there’s more! God promises that in every single hardship we go through, he will be with us and uphold and protect us.
In Isaiah 43, he says:
But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “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. Isaiah 43.1-2
God tells us that we will walk through hard times. But we should not fear, for He created us, redeemed us, and will always be with us.
GOD TELLS US WE WILL PASS THROUGH TRIALS
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.
I would not be telling you the truth if I said you will never suffer if you follow Jesus. The opposite is true. The Bible promises that disciples of Jesus will go through many and various trials.
Note, God said WHEN you pass through the waters, WHEN you walk through fire, not IF you pass through the waters, or IF you walk through fire.
The New Testament tells us we will all suffer in various ways.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. JA 1.:2-3
We will meet trials of VARIOUS KINDS – our faith will be tested in order to produce steadfastness or perseverance.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 PE 1.6-7
Peter says that even gold, which doesn’t last, is tested by fire. How much more precious than gold is our faith. If gold is tested by fire then the genuineness of our faith will be tested as well. And that will result in God being glorified when Jesus returns. Gold is tested by fire; our faith is tested when we are “grieved by various trials.”
It’s easy to believe that God is good and loving and faithful and in control when everything is going our way and his blessings are easy to see.
But it glorifies God so much when we trust and continue to believe in him in the midst of trials, when his love and power are not as obvious. We who trust and hope in Jesus will not have carefree, trouble-free lives. But we believe 2 CO 4.17:
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
When we get to heaven, our grievous afflictions will seem light and momentary compared to the eternal weight of glory they have produced. This glory will be so great it is “beyond all comparison.”
Even though we know this, when we suffering, we can still be tempted to fear. So God tells us “fear not”
THOUGH WE WILL ALL PASS THROUGH TRIALS, WE NEED NOT FEAR
But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, (1)
Isaiah wrote these words to the nation of Israel, who because of their sins, had been taken into captivity in Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, who was powerful, brutal and cruel. He was the kind of king who would throw you into a furnace if you didn’t bow to his image or throw you into a lion’s den if you prayed. He was not a nice guy. Can you imagine the fears Israel had to deal with? They were in a strange land under a cruel king. Yet God tells them “Fear not…”
It would be like if ISIS conquered our nation and deported us to Syria and God said to us “Fear not.” I can imagine people who heard Isaiah might have said, “Fear not? Isaiah, look around. We’ve been ripped from our homes and deported to Babylon. We’re slaves to this horrific king Nebuchadnezzar. Who knows what’s going to happen to us?
We aren’t facing what Israel faced but we are always tempted to fear. It is part of our human condition. Fear involves the future. We are tempted to fear suffering in the future, for ourselves or our loved ones. During this current pandemic we can be tempted to fear for our children and grandchildren, and for ourselves.
We may wonder where the money will come from to provide for our family. We are tempted to fear for their health and safety. I have said to my wife a few times over the years, “I used to think that when our children were grown and out of the house, everything would be easy.” Wrong. In some ways it’s harder now because we carry burdens and hopes and concerns for our kids, and now we have grandchildren to be concerned about.
None of us know what the future holds, so we can be tempted to fear.
But God gives us powerful reasons to trust him.
WE HAVE POWERFUL REASONS NOT TO FEAR, BUT TO TRUST GOD
First, we should trust God because he created us
But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel:
God says to Israel: I created you. I formed you. You belong to me. You are my possession. In Deuteronomy God had said:
“For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. Deuteronomy 7.6
Israel was God’s “treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” Would he not care for his treasured possession?
A friend of mine built some beautiful handcrafted tables in a local coffeeshop. Do you think that after all the thought and work he had put into creating these beautiful tables that he would thoughtlessly wreck them?
God says to Israel, “I created you! I formed you! You’re my treasured possession.” Do you think I won’t protect and deliver and help you?” He says the same to us: “I made you a new creation in Christ my Son.
Do you think I won’t protect you and care for you?”
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 CO 5.17
Secondly, we should trust God because he redeemed us:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. (1)
To redeem in the Bible means to pay a price. To pay a ransom in exchange for someone, to pay a price to buy someone back.
Isaiah’s words looked forward to what God would do to redeem us: God would pay the ultimate price to pay for our sins and save us – the infinitely precious life of His Son. That’s how much God loves us. Jesus never sinned. He always perfectly obeyed his Father. But He paid the redemption price. He paid for our sins on the cross so the Father could forgive and adopt us.
THIS is why we should “Fear not” – for God has redeemed us, called us by name. We are His, precious in His eyes. and He loves us. He has called us by name – individually. And we are His.
The more we pay for something, the more precious it is to us. God could not have paid a higher price to redeem us. If He had sacrificed all the angels in heaven, it would not be equal to one drop of His Son’s infinitely precious blood.
So when we pass through the waters, when we go through rivers, when we walk through fire, we can be absolutely confident that God loves us. He is not punishing us. He has redeemed us with the blood of his Son. He has called us by name. We are his. Anything that he takes us through is because he loves us intensely. We may not understand it, and we can cry out to him, but let us never forget, He loves us so much He crushed his Son to redeem us. He will only do good to us.
Third, we should trust God because He is personally with us
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
God is not far off from us when we are going through hard times. When I first got saved, I thought God was probably so busy running the universe, He didn’t care about my little problems. But that is simply not true. God promises “I will be with you.” This is where faith comes in – we don’t always feel like God is with us. We can feel like God has abandoned us. But He has promised to be with us.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah PS 46.1-3
God is A VERY PRESENT HELP IN TROUBLE – he is very present – right here – not far away.
So how do we “Fear not”? How do we combat fear when we must walk through floods and fire? By remembering that God created us anew in Christ – we are His treasured possession. God redeemed us – paid the highest price to rescue us from our sins – the blood of His Son – that is how valuable we are to him. And has promised to be with us – he will never leave us nor forsake us, not even for 5 minutes. He will never let us go. That’s how we fight our temptation to fear.