God is Not Unsympathetic to His Children's Troubles
God is not Unsympathetic to His Children’s Troubles
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
nor will the flame burn you
(Isaiah 43:2, NAS).
This passage has been treasured by suffering people in all ages, as a hymn is treasured which has suggestive figure (e.g. “Rock of ages, cleft for me”). The strength, the almost extravagance, of the poetical figures, are found extremely helpful in meditative moods. The word, when seems to suggest that adversities are unavoidable. It is only a question of time. ‘Patient enduring,’ says Paul at Corinth, ‘of the same sufferings which we also suffer’ (2 Cor. 1:6). While we patiently endure, our salvation is advanced, sufferings and consolations all becoming energetic means of accomplishing God’s great design, for all things work together for good to them that love God.
Therefore, it is an undeniable fact in the Holy Scriptures, that the Angel of the Lord does not always clear the debris from the track in advance of our coming. Nor does God guarantee the help of the Holy Spirit before a reason to glorify Himself. Moreover, he does not remove obstacles out of His children’s way before they reach them. Yet when the desolating floods of life are upon us, rising to our breast and our throat - our Heavenly Father’s loving arms are stretched forth to rescue. From this assurance we note three things.
I. God did not promise a trouble-free Course.
If the benevolent guidance of God or nature [providence], bring round to us a ‘pass through the waters,’ or a ‘walk through the fire,’ appropriate grace will not prevent us or change our portion or condition in life. Through the rivers and the fires, we have to go. There were such reasons for the captivity of Israel, that appropriate grace would not interfere with the chastisement. Paul prayed to have his ‘thorn in the flesh’ removed, but the solution to his problem was humanly unhelpful, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).
II. God guarantees His Presence on the troubled Course.
And it is easier to bear when two are under the load, and One has ‘everlasting strength.’ God’s presence in the fires may be illustrated by the fourth from which stood beside the Hebrew boys in the fiery furnace (Dan. 3:19-25). God’s presence in the waters is well portrayed in the following.
When the steamship Massachusetts was wrecked in Long Island Sound, there were two mothers, each with a child, who were noticeable for their respectful calmness during the hours of greatest peril and anxiety, when it seems as if the vessel must shortly go to pieces. A passenger from Philadelphia says that his attention was first called to them by the voices in singing. Going towards them, he found a little boy standing there with his life-preserver on, and the little fellow was just joining with his mother in singing a hymn of trust and confidence. And when rescue came, and the passengers were safely on another vessel, those same sweet voices were again heard, this time in a ringing strain of praise for their deliverance.
Through His love the Lord provided,
A place for us to rest
A place to find the answers,
In the hour of distress
Now there’s never any reason,
For you to give up in despair
Just slip away and breathe His name,
For He will surely meet you there
In the presence of Jehovah,
God Almighty, Prince of Peace
Troubles vanish, hearts are mended,
In the presence of The King
III. God Prevents troubles from Overtaking the Course.
His concern is about those who have to suffer, not about the trouble, or the circumstances that make the trouble. It may reach our circumstances and may even reach our bodies; but God says, ‘No further.’ The narratives of Job are regarded as key to a right understanding of Christian suffering and the Sovereignty of God. Job was described as ‘a man of integrity, and moral and spiritual stability’ (Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D., Hebrew Key Word Study Bible). Ruined and diseased (Chap. 1-2), God’s hedge was round about Job himself, and nobody and nothing could touch him. No waters no fires will ever reach us, to injure or destroy the life in us which God has quickened from spiritual death.
Precious Lord, “Thou art my hiding place; Thou dost preserve me from trouble; Thou dost surround me with songs of deliverance.” Amen.