Well Worn Pages is a series of posts giving us a small window into a particular passage of Scripture that the author returns to time and time again for encouragement, comfort, or perspective. If you would like to contribute a post to this series, email content to email@example.com
Katie Smith is a former Kids Ministry Intern at Christ City, South Vancouver, and is currently a UBC Student in Teaching School.
Isaiah 43:2 (NIV)
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.
A few summers ago, I found myself living in a climate of transition and stress. Some of it was planned, of course: I was changing schools, and I’d quit the job I’d been working for nearly two years. But I certainly hadn’t anticipated that a member of my family would be experiencing a health crisis, the result of which was a total overhaul of my family’s ordinarily quiet routine. Things that I normally relied on to bring stability to my life were no longer doing so. Instead of predictability, my days were filled with worry and fear.
It was during this season that I came across Isaiah 43, not for the first time, but in a way that reshaped how I view life. While the entire chapter is incredibly powerful, verse 2 remains a favourite of mine.
At the time, these words brought me enormous comfort. When I imagine “passing through waters,” I think of the Pacific Ocean on a particularly stormy day: grey, overwhelming, and unpredictable. While stormwatching from a safe distance can be fun, being in the midst of gale-force winds on the open seas would be absolutely frightening.
Water is a substance that is constantly moving and in transition. The metaphor of passing through water was one that I could identify with, and I felt that “the waters” was an accurate depiction of what I was experiencing. Knowing that God was walking with me through that season of my life brought me considerable peace and allowed me to rest in his love.
While this verse still brings me comfort, it also challenges me because it is a reminder of my own powerlessness. I often find it tempting to rely on earthly things like finances and family to provide stability and predictability in my own life. I frequently feel that I know what’s best for me, and that if I could just control “the waters,” my life would be that much better. But on some level, the “waters” and “fires” of life are completely out of my hands. I alone have little control over the future. For me, relinquishing control and allowing God to guide every aspect of my life is a real challenge. A lot of the time, I walk through life trying to achieve some kind of obscure destiny by relying on my own strength. Every time I come back to this verse, however, I am reminded of my flawed human nature and my utter weakness. I should not look to earthly things for stability, but instead to my relationship with my Heavenly Father. What a relief it is to know that there is a God powerful enough to control the seas but loving enough to walk with us through both the calm and the storm.