Thursday, August 18, 2016


Yesterday I preached a funeral, using Isaiah 43:1-3a as the text, which reads:

"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.
  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.
  For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.""

As Isaiah brings this word from the Lord the people of Israel are in a bad spot, and a bad spot that is entirely of their own making.  They have ignored God and many calls by Him through the prophets, particularly Isaiah, to repent of their sin and return to Him.  And in spite of the way they have acted towards God the message that they receive is not "You are about to get what you deserve, so tough luck" but "You are mine. Things will be hard but I will be with you. In all things I am your Savior." 

The words Isaiah brings are words of assurance and while the specific context involves bad behavior by God's people the truth of the assurance they provide applies to  God's people in any time of hardship or struggle.  God, looking down from above, sends a message of His assurance to His people in the midst of their troubles.

The other scripture I used during the funeral was Psalm 23, which says this in verse 4:

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,  I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."

In this verse David speaks to God during a time of hardship, expressing assurance that he trusts God in the darkest of situations.  In a sense these two passages express the same thing.  They look from one side, through hardship to the other side, and yet say the same thing: God is good and He is with His children in even the worst of times.  They are almost mirror images.

Almost, with the difference being in the one speaking.  David speaks to God with confidence, but David is human, and even the best of humans have their moments of weakness, when the strongest and best of intentions may waver.

But not so God.  There is no weakness in God.  There is no good intention with bad follow-through in God.  There is no doubting that everything He promises to provide for His children will one day be fulfilled. It may not happen in the way we desire, or according to our timeline, but it most certainly will happen.

Yesterday I tried to use the text from Isaiah to bring a family comfort, assurance and hope as they go through a trying time.  But so many Christians are going through their own struggles and so I share this bit from yesterday to bring the same assurance to them.  And to you. 

The assurance that by faith in Jesus Christ you are His and though things may be hard, He is always with you. This is assurance that comes from God through His word.  It is assurance that will never fail.  Amen.

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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