Best of Daily Reflections: God’s Presence in Hard Times
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”
The prophecies of Isaiah testify to the “deep waters” and “fires” of Israel’s experience. Because of her persistent rejection of the Lord, he disciplined Israel through the domination of foreign rulers.
Yet even in these hard times, God did not abandon his people. He promised to be with them, protecting them from ultimate devastation. Their lives would be tough, to be sure. They would face the “rivers of difficulty” and the “fire of oppression.” But the Lord would continue to be present to his people, sharing in their suffering and pain.
We face plenty of hard times in our own lives. We see our financial well-being threatened as world markets plummet. Or we ache when our children make choices we don’t support. Or we hear our doctor say the dreaded word cancer. Or we worry that we might lose our job. Or . . . you can fill in the blank with the difficulties of your own life.
God does not promise to give us easy lives. Until the new creation comes, we will struggle and suffer. Yet he does promise to be with us in our hard times: protecting us, comforting us, strengthening us, giving us wisdom. What good news!
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: When have you gone through “rivers of difficulty”? Did you sense God’s presence at the time? In retrospect, do you see God’s hand upon your life in those hard times? How does God make his presence known to us when we struggle and suffer?
PRAYER: Gracious God, how I thank you for the fact of your presence in my life, especially in times of difficulty. There have been so many times when I have hung onto this promise for dear life, trusting you for patience, strength, and courage. How grateful I am for your help . . . and even more, for your presence.
Lord, you know that sometimes it’s hard for me to sense your presence, especially when I am in pain or distress. You can seem a million miles away. So help me, I pray, to be aware of you. Open my heart to know you even in the midst of difficulties. May I be attentive to the still, small voice of your Spirit, even and especially when I need you most. Amen.