22. THOUGHT UPON THOUGHT
"How precious also are Your thoughts unto me, O God!"
But now thus says the Lord that created you, O Jacob, and He that formed you, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Isaiah 43:1-3
What a library of "precious thoughts!" What an unlocking of the full heart of God do these verses contain! In reading them, we may say indeed with the Psalmist, "Many, O Lord my God, are Your thoughts which are to us." Each clause is in itself a volume. Well may the Divine speaker begin with the words, "Do not be afraid!" These tender thoughts and tender assertions remind us of the gush of parental affection when a child is in danger or is afraid, and when its most loving earthly friend heaps assurance on assurance to quiet and lull its misgivings.
"I have redeemed you," seems to be the foundation-thought of comfort in this cluster of exceeding great and precious promises. No other blessing could have been ours but for "Redeeming love." And as Christ is the Alpha, so is He the Omega of all consolation. Hence this inspired register of spiritual privileges is terminated by the assurance, "I am your Savior." The pendant chain of "precious thoughts" has these two words for its support, "Redeemer," "Savior;" and each separate link in the intermediate line of blessings is connected with Him who is the"Beginner" and "Finisher" of our faith.
God, indeed, forewarns us in the diversified symbols here employed, that the trials of His people are to be varied in kind, as well as severe in degree; "waters," "rivers," "fires," "flames." Yet we may well rise above them all, under the sublime consciousness, that the chain from first to last is in the hands of Him who died for us.
We are here further assured, not only that God is the Author of our troubles, but that He himself is in them all; that His 'thoughts' are upon us as we "pass" through the waters, and "walk" through the fires. He is minutely cognizant of all that befalls us; and is alike able and willing to grant us assistance and support. Others cannot do so. It is in their case like watching the bursting of the distant thunderstorm, or the vessel plunging in the distant sea, without the ability to render assistance. But "You know my thoughts afar off." God is not only our "refuge and strength," but "a present help in trouble." "We went through the flood on foot, there did we rejoice in Him."
More than this—He has set bounds to our trials. The rivers and streams will purify, but not overflow or overwhelm. The fires will refine, but not scorch or burn. He has too deep an interest in those of whom He says, "I have called you by your name, you are Mine," to allow our afflictions to go further than He sees to be absolutely needful. Never are His "thoughts" more fondly centered upon us than in a time of trouble. His loving presence tempers the fury of the fiercest furnace-flames—His everlasting arms are underneath the deepest and darkest waves.
O Lord God Almighty! Where is there anyone as mighty as You, Lord? Faithfulness is Your very character. You are the one who rules the oceans. When their waves rise in fearful storms, You subdue them. Psalm 89:8-9