We see beauty in the struggles of life through Jesus.
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“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel,
Isaiah 43:2-3a English Standard Version
Two rivers passed through my home town of Eugene, Oregon: The Willamette and the McKenzie. Though they are similar in size, they’re differ in temperature. Whereas I sat in inner tubes drifting the Willamette in my cutoffs. You needed a wet suit to survive in the McKenzie.
This picture of Sahalie Falls is not far from the headwaters of the McKenzie River which owes its beginning to the melting snow of the Cascade Mountains. You don’t find people swimming in this river. It wouldn’t take long for hypothermia to consume a body floating in these waters.
Add to the cold temperature the violence of this waterfall. This 70 foot waterfall drops an average of 600 cubic feet of water per second. The rocks surrounding Sahalie Falls reveals the power of this constant flow of water.
The beauty of this waterfall is best seen when a person is not affected by its violence. I took this picture on a well maintained trail a safe distance from the waterfall. It looks beautiful and sounds powerful, yet I would see this waterfall much differently if the cascading waters had trapped me.
Isaiah writes to a nation who will walk through the turbulence of exile. They will walk through violent waters and consuming flames of death, destruction, and deportation. They will question everything about life in the midst of these struggles, but Isaiah gives them a picture from outside of this painful experience. They will not drown in the waters, nor be ravaged by the flames. Why? Because the Lord is their God.
The question is not if we’ll go through turbulent times, but when. If you’re like me, you do everything that you can to avoid this turbulence, yet bad things happen and it feels like we’re drowning in the waters.
What is our hope? The God who affirmed his relationship with the Israelites is the same God who declares that we are his. The struggles of life do not have the power to kill us. Instead those struggles killed God’s Son on his cross. Jesus’ death and resurrection are the proof that God will not desert us on this journey. Our assurance does not come from within us, from some feeling of calmness. It comes from outside of us.
The power to see beauty in turbulence comes from the assurance of life that Jesus death on his cross, and his resurrection to life give you. May you see Jesus as you pass through the waters.
Copyright Douglas P Brauner