"When"

Words can be so important!  How we use them…how we say them…how we understand them.  Words can be so important!  Just this morning as I was taking some time to connect with God by reading in the Bible, I was reminded of how one word can change, or at least effect the understanding of a verse.

 During my quiet time this morning I was reading from Isaiah 43.  Specifically, I was reading the first couple verses of Isaiah 43, and even though these are verses that I’ve read numerous times in the past year (it was a used with VBS last year, it was often referred to in a study I led recently, etc.) in my reading this morning a specific word jumped out at me.  That word… “when.” Here is the specific passage I was reading;

 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;”

 I’ve added the bold and underlining just so we all notice the number of times the word “when” is used.  The passage is saying that difficulties and challenging situations will come our way in this world and in our life.  To help show this perspective, below is The Message version of Isaiah 43:2.  I really like the way it puts it.

 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—

This passage is wanting us to get in touch with those moments in our own life when life is difficult, when we’re feeling all alone, when we’re unsure what the way out is, when we are unsure if we can make it through, when we’re feeling discouraged and helpless.  Wow, that hits me where I live, as they say.  I’ve had those moments!

 This morning the word “when” really hit me.  You see, I believe that at times the word we tend to hear is “if.”  If you pass through the waters, if you pass through the rivers, if you walk through the fire…  “If” conveys these situations, or these struggles might not happen.  All too often I find that I read the word “when,” but my mind thinks “if.”  It’s easy to do.  At times the thought process is, “Well, I go to church, so bad things won’t happen to me.”  “Well, I live in this part of the community so bad things won’t happen to me.”  “Well, I live in this great country, so bad things won’t happen to me.”  Or “I’m from such and such family, so bad things won’t happen to me.”  Have you ever sensed one of those lines popping up in your mind?  I have. 

 What Isaiah is saying is, it’s just a matter of time – it will happen.  Darkness, hurts and struggles are a reality of life.  But WHEN struggles come your way, just remember that God is with you.  We do not have to be defeated or overwhelmed by the circumstance of life…God will be with us.  That is what Isaiah wants us to know!

 It seems there are so many struggles that fill the world.  So many difficulties touch our lives.  Today, Isaiah 43:1-2 are words that I am going to hang on to…  In the midst of the struggles of life, in the midst of the hurts and challenges, another short little word is so important to remember, “will.”  God says, “I will be with you.”

Serving Together,

Pastor Keith