By Mary Ellen Goree
Isaiah 43:1-3 (Good News translation)
Israel, the LORD who created you says,
“Do not be afraid—I will save you.
I have called you by name—you are mine.
When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you;
your troubles will not overwhelm you.
When you pass through fire, you will not be burned;
the hard trials that come will not hurt you.
For I am the LORD your God,
the holy God of Israel, who saves you.
I will give up Egypt to set you free;
I will give up Ethiopia and Seba.
Reading the story of the birth of Jesus almost always takes me back to remembering the births of all three of our children and the emotions evoked when each baby was put into my arms for the very first time. Holding my newborn child and calling him or her by name filled me with the overpowering desire to protect my child from all trouble and sorrow forever. Even though I knew then as well as I know now that it is not possible to protect our children from every “danger, toil and snare,” I would have given up anything in my power if it could buy lifelong safety and happiness for the new life in my arms.
As a mother for her child, so God for his children. These verses are God’s promise to us that he will always be with us. God doesn’t promise us that we will never pass through deep waters or fire; he doesn’t promise us that we will never have troubles or hard trials. But he does promise that we will never be overwhelmed. We will never be without hope, because he has called us by name. He reminds us that unlike a human mother with her newborn, he has the power to save us. He has bought our freedom, not with Egypt or Ethiopia, but with the sacrifice of his own Son.