So here I am, a Christian at whatever stage of my Christian life. I have met a new challenge that has caused a struggle for me. I am overwhelmed like someone who has landed in the water with six foot waves who feels like she is going to drown! Or everything may just seem very dark and I am scared to death! Or the worst tragedy I can think of has hit and my heart is breaking.
These are all things that happen as a result of a major assault on you or your loved ones or major perceived event coming in the future. It’s part of the way you prepare to fight…or it maybe the after effects of fighting and you are worn out! You have nothing left to give anyone and you have no hope left, even for yourself!
Let’s go back and look at the definition of hope.
Hope is confident expectation
based on the person and promises of GOD.
If we are going to put our hope in GOD, we need to know who He is and if we can trust Him.
We also need to know what His promises are and what conditions (if any) are placed around them. We can search them out in simple Bible reading each day as we ask ourselves at least these 2 questions from our reading:
- What do I learn about GOD/Jesus from this passage?
- What promises of GOD are here? Are they conditional?
But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 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.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
4 Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
peoples in exchange for your life.
5Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you.
6 I will say to the north, Give up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth,
7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”
Isaiah 43:1-7 ESV
Let’s look at this passage a bit. Remember that promises to Israel generally include GOD’s people (those who are “in Christ”), members of the Church universal, throughout all time.) What do we learn about who GOD is?
vs. 1- He is our Redeemer. think through what you know about the meaning of this word. A good study Bible will tell you more about the meaning. This will give you brief information on the meaning of Redeemer in the Bible.
A redeemer in the general sense is a lot like someone who purchases an old home that is a complete mess and renovates it from the inside out. He doesn’t just decorate it on the outside. He puts in new wiring, new plumbing, new guts, and works his way out as the house is renovated. The cost in time and money is often more than you can simply add on a balance sheet. It costs sweat too. This helps us transfer the meaning of Redeemer to more than simply intellectual, religious terms. We get more of the feel of who GOD is as our Redeemer. He changes us from the inside out. It is a one time event when He changes our heart. But It is also a lifelong process as both our attitudes and behavior are changed.
vs. 3-GOD is holy. He is unable to be in the presence of sin, evil or moral darkness. That is why He had to provide a way for His people to be redeemed.
GOD is our Savior. The fact that He is our Savior is closely related to the fact that He is our Redeemer. He has saved us from the penalty and power of sin. While it is true that we live in a world that is broken in so many ways by sin and its affects, we, as His children, are now able to glorify GOD because of the change He has made in our hearts. That wasn’t the case before we were redeemed.
What does He promise here?
- Because He has redeemed us, we don’t need to be afraid. We belong to Him! What is it that keeps us from being afraid? Why does that help our fear? (vs. 1)
- What do the promises in vs. 2 mean? Floods won’t harm you. Fires won’t burn you because I am with you? They certainly won’t harm us eternally. He has promised to be with us through those times whether they are literal floods and fires or just feel as bad as floods and fires. And if they end in physical death? Our lives truly begin! What more do you have to add?
- Is it comforting to know that he is with you during these dark, scary times just as it was when your parent was with you as a child? Think about the contrast of this holy GOD on the one hand who still loves you and finds you precious despite your difficult situation, some of it may even be the result of your own mistakes. Because of Jesus, He can be with you because you are as holy as Jesus is holy in a judicial sense, since Jesus traded your sinful record for His holy record.
Meditating on this wonderful news! How do we do it?
When you want to remember something good to fill your mind, how do you do it? You memorize it don’t you? This is that kind of good news. Take out of your head all the negative images you have of rote memorizing. Just write this on a card or do what you do to remember the things you want to remember. Read it over often in your spare minutes. Interact with its meaning. No, I don’t mean what it means in your present context, but rather the context when it was written.
Who was the human writing it? To whom was he writing it? What was going on in the culture of that place? Browse some trusted places on the internet to find that information. The Gospel Coalition will be a great resource for information, but there are others as well. Then just read and reread the passage in little blocks of time as you wait. Your local pastor may also be able to give you guidance on helpful places to read.
Usually, the most common meaning is what is meant by the words. Within a few weeks, you will have it memorized. Then, interact with the words in your memory. Ask yourself questions about it. Ruminate on it. Make use of Bible Gateway to find these ideas in other Scripture passages. Using the Bible to interpret the Bible is a great way to learn truth. Then, when you need GOD’s Word to encourage you or encourage another person, it will come back to you.