But now, God's Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob, the One who got you started, Israel: "Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you. I've called your name. You're mine. When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you. When you're in rough waters, you will not go down. When you're between a rock and a hard place, it won't be a dead end.
Isaiah 43: 1-2 The Message
In the past, December has tended to be a busy month for most people. Shopping, baking and getting ready for Christmas, on top of all the other responsibilities of life, have often seemed to weigh us down. It’s also the last month of the year, and sometimes we begin to think about all those goals we set last January (pre-Covid).
We may not be as busy as previous years, so perhaps we do not feel as overwhelmed in 2020. Yet we still face pressures in our daily lives. Between the added seasonal darkness and the overwhelming sadness over all Covid has stolen from our lives, it is easy to feel like we are in some rough waters.
Enter God’s word, in the form of these encouraging words from the Book of Isaiah. Here, God is speaking and telling His people Israel that He is with them. He is with them not just when the weather is good, and it is smooth sailing. God is with the Israelites when things get rough. The Lord is saying to Israel, “Even when you are drowning in trouble, I will be with you!” The water may be over their heads. Yet still the Lord will not abandon His people.
God is also with us, as He was with the Israelites. Such rescuing language brings to mind news reports of some shark attacks. If a person is alone, the potential outcome of a shark attack is much more questionable. However, if a shark attack victim is with someone else, particularly someone who loves them, it can change everything. A number of people have had loved ones (a parent, sibling, or spouse), help rescue them from a shark attack. In spite of their strong jaws and razor-sharp teeth, sharks really don’t like getting punched in the nose, or poked in the eye. Often when they encounter that kind of resistance during an attack, sharks give up! They end up leaving their prey behind.
The Lord is like that loved one who is with us physically when we are in danger, or just dealing with the difficulties of life. We are not alone, and we can survive being prey to all of the challenges life puts in our path. When we pray, we are not prey (pun intended!).
Our problems and our struggles may seem so daunting that they threaten to swallow us whole. Yet our story is never over, when the Lord has our back. His presence, and His fierce defense when we are attacked can make all the difference. Remember the encouraging rhetorical question Paul asked of the Romans: “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
The answer, of course, is “No one”…. God is with us, even when we feel like we are drowning, and going down for the last time. God… saves… us! The Lord IS our salvation! Hallelujah!
Precious Lord, our Savior,
I thank You for rescuing me, and for fighting for me. You care even when I feel like I have no energy left to fight for myself. Help me to be a comforting companion for others, especially when they are going through stormy seas. May I be a faithful friend, as I seek to help them navigate rough waters. With You, I am never alone. May I find rest and peace in Your promises, and Your constant presence.
Gratefully I pray this prayer in Your Holy name. Amen