Suffering is ahead. That is God’s message through Isaiah. It is a question of “when” and not “if”: “When you pass through the waters…when you pass through the rivers…when you walk through fire”.
What message of hope does God have for us as we suffer? God’s first words to us are, “Do not fear”. But when life is under threat, how can we not be afraid?
God’s great promise is, “I will be with you”. God says that his presence brings protection amidst the rising waters and the blazing fires of suffering. Who is this God that promises to be with us? Isaiah says God is our creator. God knows us and call us to him by name. We belong to God and are precious to him. Our lives are not captive to “fate”; we are held firm and safe in the palm of a loving God who has power over all things.
This God says to us, “I have redeemed you”. God’s redemption of our lives through Christ is more powerful than anything else we can experience in life. God has saved us – redeemed our lives – and no suffering, not even death itself, can take new life in Christ from us. We do not need to be afraid. It is God’s stunning redemption plan in Christ – not our current suffering – that will win out in the end.