‘When you pass through the waters, I will be with you’

The report of floods on TV today made me think of Isaiah 43:2: ‘When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.’ Floods, of course, like many extreme weather conditions, can prove physically dangerous to life and limb; but whenever I read this verse, I also think about its metaphorical implications for my human journey.

waterhead, lake district, lake windermere

Heavy rain clouds gather at Waterhead, Lake Windermere, today in preparation for the deluge to follow. (Photo courtesy of www.lakelandcam.co.uk.)

Sometimes, one feels like one is passing through horrendous waters that threaten to overwhelm. Someone who is seriously ill, depressed, worried, or feeling at his or her wit’s end, may feel that he or she is barely keeping his or her head above water, despite treading said milling water frantically. And one might find it even more difficult when one is particularly concerned about another person, rather than oneself. The world seems to conspire against one, and nobody seems to truly understand or deeply care. Yet, here we have a promise: ‘Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.’ (1 Peter 5:7)

I will be the first to admit that it is not easy to let go of one’s worries, and fully trust the Lord. We all like to be in control of our own destinies; and letting go of one’s anxieties is like saying to God, ‘You take over. I am in your hands.’ For most people, doing this is akin to falling backwards into the void in the hopes that someone will catch you! Now, that is frightening!

However, that, precisely, is what God the Father wants from each and every one of us who professes a commitment to him. Thinking about this logically, if one has committed one’s life and soul to God, then one must have had the faith to do so in the first place. Letting go of one’s worries is to confess that Jesus is one’s Lord: the Christian is urged and encouraged to thrust everything into his capable hands and to trust him implicitly for his providence and goodness.

I remember clearly some incidents from times past just how much I begged for the Lord’s help. Sometimes, I would say to him, ‘I know you hear me, but please answer – (read help) – me too!’ David, the psalmist, was of course very frank in his conversations with the Lord. Witness Psalm 38:

17For I am ready to fall,
And my sorrow is continually before me.

18For I confess my iniquity;
I am full of anxiety because of my sin.

19But my enemies are vigorous and strong,
And many are those who hate me wrongfully.

20And those who repay evil for good,
They oppose me, because I follow what is good.

21Do not forsake me, O LORD;
O my God, do not be far from me!

22Make haste to help me,
O Lord, my salvation!

I can tell you that it was not easy waiting for answers. One of us was made redundant. The other was extremely unhappy at work and not earning enough to cover our expenses. The bills had to be paid, but where was the money going to come from? It was depressing! Yet, the Lord comforted me. Despite copious tears and my sorry want of faith whilst stumbling along this rocky path, I found comfort in God. ‘ Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholds him with his hand’. (Psalm 37:24)

I have been a Christian now for many years. During this time, I have experienced many dark as well as happy times. But the darkness of those journeys and my emergence from them serve to remind me that God will never allow those flood waters to cover my head, so that I might drown. Sometimes one’s worries and depression are so immediate that it is impossible to rise above them. I think that that is when we need God most. For believers and unbelievers alike, it may possibly be the most difficult time to call on his help. But if we do so, and we believe in his saving grace and accept our need for repentance, then surely he will not forsake us, and leave us to sink. ‘Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light.’ (Micah 7:8)

wastwater lake district

When the clouds of life’s crises clear, then come rainbows of faith and hope. (Rainbow over Wastwater, courtesy of www.chrisceaser.com.)

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