” ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;’ “
These verses were what kept me going during the recent labor and delivery of our third child. When the contractions came over me like never-ending waves and threatened to capsize me, I recited Isaiah 43:1-3 and prayed God would keep me from “drowning.” Focusing intensely on the changes occurring within my body as it prepared to deliver this child, I retreated into a place where I felt safe and unafraid of the pain I was experiencing. These verses held my focus and provided the reassurance I needed that the Lord was walking with me through each contraction. I resolved to take one contraction at a time, knowing that each one brought me just a little closer to the delivery of our daughter.
As labor progressed, there were moments when I felt like my head was going under, that the waters were sweeping over me, that the fires were burning me, especially during transition and pushing. The pain became so intense that I felt like I could no longer focus like I needed to and even admitted defeat a few times, hoping someone would feel sorry for me and just knock me out. But for most of my labor, I felt a calm, a peace surrounding me that I can only attribute to the Spirit’s presence.
Fast forward nearly two weeks following Annabeth’s birth, and I still find myself meditating on these verses in Isaiah 43. The contractions and after-birth pains are long gone now, but life is so overwhelming at times–what with a 3 1/2 year-old, a 19-month-old, and a newborn. There are moments when I find myself, once again, on the verge of drowning. It is in these instances, though, that I know Satan is attacking me, whispering discouraging words in my ear to weaken my confidence in my ability to take care of this family. So I take one day at a time.
The message of Isaiah 43 is true for us today. If we trust in the Lord during the difficult seasons, then He promises to be with us and protect us. If, however, we trust in ourselves and our own abilities, then we will ultimately sink or be consumed by the flames through which we are passing.
In these trying times, we must hold fast to the Lord’s promises. Even when we don’t feel His presence. Even when we can barely stand on our own two feet. Even when we just want to give up.
It is in moments like these when we need reminding that . . .
We cannot live this life without Him.
We cannot make it one minute without His hand of mercy leading us through the turbulent rivers of the day-to-day.
We have been redeemed.
Our Lord summons us by name and says, “You are mine!”
These blessed promises from Isaiah 43:1-3 are what keep my head above water right now. I cling to them out of desperation because they provide hope unlike anything this world has to offer.
What about you? Do you have a verse (or verses) you go to when life seems overwhelming? What do you do to cope during the difficult seasons?
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