Thursday, April 28, 2016

Not From, But Through

I want to share something from a funeral sermon I had prepared for this morning.  The scripture text was Isaiah 43:1-3a.  Today, Thursday, I no longer quite recall why I picked the text last Sunday afternoon.  Sunday morning I preached from Mark 6:45-56, and I used the passage from Isaiah in my conclusion.  So I guess that it was swirling around a bit in my mind and I thought I could bring something out of it for the funeral.

In verse 2 the prophet Isaiah writes:

"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."

Speaking for God the prophet is direct in saying that trouble will come to God's people.  But he is also clear, crystal clear, about the fact that God's people will come through the trouble.  Things will come, really bad things, maybe even horrible things, but those things won’t change the facts revealed in verse 1, which is that the people Isaiah speaks to are redeemed by God, they are called by Him by their names, and most importantly, that they are His.  And so the trials may test them, may prune them, or may refine them, but they will not destroy them.  Just typing this now reminds me of Paul's confident testimony from Romans 8:35-39.

So often we want all things to work out in our lives in the ways that are the easiest for us, or ways that lead to happy endings, or ways that keep troubles of our lives to the level of nuisance and not beyond.  But Isaiah teaches us that difficult and painful things really do come to God's people.  It isn’t a matter of if hardship will come, but of when and how.

By faith in God, His people are not delivered from all troubles in this life, but they are carried through them.

For God's people hard times will come, but God is faithful.  May you know the comfort of His presence in each and every storm of your life.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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