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Isaiah 43:1-3

But now, this is what the LORD says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 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.

There are troubles you can fix, and there are troubles you can’t fix. It’s scary enough when the trouble appears to be manageable.  Studying for a test can stress a person out, for example.  But when the thing you’re facing is obviously something you can do nothing about, you may find yourself dealing with raw fear.  You want to avoid the dangerous river. You want to walk around the fire. But you have to walk through. If you’re dealing with tragedy-sized trouble and you can’t do anything about it, then your only hope is that the Lord will be there for you.  The problem for God’s Old Testament people was that the only one who could help them was the One they’d sinned against.

Isn’t the same true of us? We all fall short of his glory, and we know it. He richly provides all we need for body and soul, but all too often our gratitude and thankfulness for his gifts lasts a few moments and is quickly replaced with discontentedness. What right do we have to ask the Lord for help?

               But the Lord who created us has also redeemed us. The eternal cold shoulder we deserve from God will never happen. On his cross, Jesus already accepted it in our place.  The sins that weigh heavy on our conscience can't claim us.  God the Holy Spirit has claimed us in baptism, and we are his. Not a single one of our sins remains on our record.  Jesus has paid our price, and his Father accepted his payment.  God has spoken: “I have redeemed you.” There is nothing anyone else can say about it.

So now is the path ahead of you full of pain, sickness, grief, and loss?  Don’t be fooled by how things look and feel.  The same LORD who had a good plan through the cross Jesus carried has a good plan for you when you carry your cross in his name.  

And since the LORD has paid so dearly to redeem you from sin, you can count on him to carry you through whatever you have to face.  Difficult as the road may be, you still have the full peace of God's forgiveness. Overwhelmed as you may at times feel, you aren’t alone.  God is on your side. So there is nothing in this world that can truly harm you.  

              When your last hour comes, there are questions that may trouble your soul.  "Will God really receive me?  Is my faith as strong as it needs to be?"  You have nothing to fear.  God has already received you.  Jesus is already with you.  His work of saving you is already finished.  Nothing can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.  When death comes to you, then heaven is just around the corner.  You will walk through that fire, and you won’t be burned.  You will pass through that river, and it won’t sweep over you. 

            If we’re honest, we can’t fix any of our troubles, even the ones that seem manageable, at least not on our own.  It may seem like we’ve been the ones to handle such things in the past, but it was the LORD who gave us the strength and energy to do it.  The bigger troubles - the ones with the potential truly to frighten us - they wake us up to what was true all along.  We have always been in over our heads from the very start.  Every trouble is too much for us.  But none of those troubles are too much for him. 

So don’t be afraid.  Don’t be afraid of the little troubles of life that stress you out.  Don’t be afraid of the big troubles that are too much for you.  Don’t be afraid because the LORD who created and formed you has also redeemed you.  In the name of Jesus. Amen.


Author: Pastor Jon Zabell

Copyright (c) 2024, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Green Bay, WI 54301

Bible text, NIV (c) Biblia, 2011

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