Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
I attended a wedding a few weeks back and really lost myself in tears during worship (love it when that happens!). We were singing the song Jesus by Chris Tomlin and the line in the chorus, “He stands in the fire beside me” hit me really hard. I was a wreck in a beautiful way.
I am sure some of you can immediately think of times when you stood in the fire, feeling all alone, and wondering where God was. The good thing is that, in hindsight, we always see how He had been there every step of the way.
Some of you might be in that very fire now. Perhaps you are suffering from the loss of a family member, betrayal by a loved one, or just overwhelmed by the weight of your own sin; and you are wondering when it is going to end. Please remember the powerful image that Jesus is right there with you in the scorching heat and experiencing the pain right by your side. Just as the powerful promise in Isaiah, “Fear not, for I am with you,” whenever you are questioning His presence, know that He is there. And even in our darkest hour, we have nothing to fear as He is right there with us (Psalm 23:4). In fact, He is here especially for the weak and the faint because “the LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”(Psalm 34:18)
Whether you are standing in the fire or on the mountaintop admiring God’s faithfulness, I hope that as we approach Christmas this year, we can reflect on the reason why Jesus came. Our Heavenly Father loves us so much that He came into our broken world. God’s love for us is so radical that when we turned away from Him, He chased after us; while we were His enemies, He sacrificed His Son to bring us closer. “While we were sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
Our God is not one that walks away when the going gets tough. He is one who sees pain and brokenness, and He offers Himself to redeem it. God did not just sit on His throne and orchestrate a resolution, He got physically involved to make the suffering His own. Jesus was born into this world so we do not ever have to be alone. He submitted Himself to a humiliating death to save us from the greatest pain of all: the absence of God.
Brothers and sisters, fear not, He is with us. He came to be with us in the fire.
As we approach Christmas, let us:
- Thank God for the specific times that He has stood with us in the fire; and,
- Pray for those around us who are in a difficult season and to be God’s love to them. Just as how 1 John 4:12 put it: No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.