WHEN you pass through the waters, (I will be with you)
WHEN you pass through the rivers (they will not sweep over you)
WHEN you walk through the fire (you will not be burned) – longer, ongoing,
What is the meaning of waters, rivers, fire in Isaiah 43:2?
The reading I have done show three types of trials and persecution
Waters – of a pressing, wearying, continuous grinding trial – generally of persecution for the cause of Christ. These are trials you can pass through because you are not alone. I am a lot like Peter, that when I am “in the water” I most often focus on the water, and fear the water’s potential for harm. But when I remember or am reminded that I am not alone, and I focus on the strength of the one beside me and the potential on the other side. Hope can be found by focusing on the horizon, rather than the circumstance.
Rivers – waters with potential of multiple and unstable currents, causing turbulence, a significant number of rapids – especially near obstructions (rocks, etc) which can cause the water to flow back on itself or form a high wall of water. In Psalm 69, David cries out to God: “Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing; I have come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary with my crying; my throat is dry; my eyes fail while I wait for my God…” These verses portend waters of judgment – not for David this time, but for his persecutors. Yet God allows walls of water to approach David, and us, dealing with so many pressing issues at once that we feel as if we were drowning. What good? To provide an experience of trust that God’s control of the waters could provide an ultimate good and display glory to God before others through the journey and the final outcome.
I’ve frequently spoken of the feelings of grief on losing a child – it certainly does come in huge waves that portend to drown and I wonder when I read this and saw that despite all of the tears from overwhelming feelings, David was still waiting on the Lord.
Fire – refines. It purifies. Good, right? But to get purified, it experiences what Peter (I Peter 4:12-13) refers to as fiery ordeals that come for our testing. Daniel also wrote (3:15-17) of three men who literally had a trial by fire and told the king who commanded them into the furnace, “”If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. “But even if He does not…”
These are definitely deep tests of faith. Refining involves heating until molten in 1000 degree flame, stirring and skimming impurities away. The high pressure of the heat is necessary to root out the impurities and changing the configuration, purifying it, so all visible light is reflected from it.
Have you experienced any of these levels of trial and suffering? Then do not be despondent. Peter also made an astounding statement of instruction and encouragement regarding such experiences: “…to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.”
So, the more I have to endure, the more I should (or need to) keep on rejoicing? Whoa.
I have to admit this is beyond my understanding. But then, so is God. The times I have felt
closest to God were when fasting and praying through a trial or for a person or situation with the potential to devastate faith. And when (sometimes years or decades later of prayer-fasting (weeks at a time or particular day or meal each week) I could look back and see how God was glorified through those actual circumstances, I could rejoice. And not just with an ok, I will rejoice attitude, but as Peter said – at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation –meaning extremely joyful and glad, clapping and shouting in happiness!
I am personally aware of many deep waters, rivers and fires among my Christian family, and I pray for you
to find the peace in rejoicing that our Lord chose to experience His sufferings on our behalf,
to be honored that you have been called to suffer for the cause of Christ and be a testimony to His faithfulness to be with us through the waters, the rivers and the fire, and
to accept and find hope that through your refining you can relate to and comfort others in their sufferings
I pray these things that you may be prepared for when Christ’s glory is revealed in all of it, you may (are able) to rejoice with exultation!