The Chaplain's Notebook


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 …” — Isaiah 43:2,3

Judah feared Babylon’s army and captivity. This quote from Isaiah the prophet was shared with Judah. The words are comforting because they are encouraging people through the most difficult of circumstances. They felt alone, powerless and isolated against the enemy. Isaiah reminds them that they are not alone and there is strength beyond them to bring them through the most difficult of times.

We can be steered into times of difficulty as well as times of prosperity. Thoughts of isolation can affect any vocation to varying degrees. This is a reminder that you are not alone. God is not just with us in the times of blessing but also in difficulty. Sometimes, our trials come in the way of waters, rivers or even fire. There are three characteristics of trials in our lives named here. First, he speaks of “waters,” which can mean the depth of our problems. Then he refers to “rivers,” which remind us of the turbulence of our trials. Last, he speaks of “fires,” and that reminds us of the intensity of our difficulties. They are a reality of life. Another reality is that God isn’t surprised when these things happen. There’s no doubt that the last couple of years birthed all three of these characteristics in unison. They didn’t surprise God. You became stronger through them.

A Goliath-sized “fire” faced King Hezekiah at one time. Hezekiah was sent a threatening letter from the enemy. He took this letter and spread it before God, and prayed. God told him to go to sleep and trust him to take care of the enemy. And he did! The next morning, Hezekiah woke up to a completely decimated enemy army (2 Kings 19:35). God easily handled the enemy. Hezekiah didn’t create an unreal expectation for himself, but he did trust. The enemy’s job is to inflict doubt, fear and the feeling of isolation. But we are reminded to “fear not” in scripture and trust. In fact, there are 365 “fear nots” in scripture. That’s one “fear not” per every day of our calendar year.