We all land in desperate situations. Sometimes it comes through a diagnosis; sometimes through a surprising tumble into sin; sometimes through a family, social, or even political crisis. Yet, one thing we can be sure of is this: at some point, each of us will ask the question, “Is there still hope for me?”
For Christians, the answer to this question is always a loud and unequivocal yes. To hope in God is never to lose hope. Isaiah 43 bears eloquent testimony to this truth. In this passage we are reminded of five reasons why despair has no place in the heart of a child of God.
1 – The Power of God to Create Out-of-Nothing
In Isaiah 43, God reminds His people that He is the one who “created” them. The word for creation in Hebrew is interesting because it is exclusively used with God as the subject. While human beings can “make” things and “form” things, they cannot “create” things – at least not in the same way as God can. Whereas God’s creating powers are limitless, He can make things out of nothing, we are always limited by pre-existing conditions.
We need to keep God’s creative power in mind when we are tempted to despair. None of our circumstances are too great for the God who made heaven and earth. If He can create universes out of nothing, he can certainly take up the dust of our lives and breathe new life into it.
2 – The Possibility of a New “Now”
Isaiah 43:1 says, “But now thus says the LORD.” It’s easy to overlook the significance of the three-letter word “now”.
When we think about time, we need to distinguish between kairos and chronos. Chronological time refers to the ceaseless flow of one-minute coming after another from the direction of past to future through the present. A kairos refers to a particular moment – a “now” – that is fraught with significance.
The Bible is filled with examples where God suddenly declares a total shift of events starting with a particular moment. Acting upon sheer grace, at such times God decides to turn the direction of life from exile to homecoming, from shame to joy, from bondage to freedom.
Christians need to know that there is nothing inevitable when we are walking with God. No matter how bleak the forecast may be, our Saviour can change any horizon with a new “now” that is as joyful as it is unexpected.
3 – The Statement “You Are Mine”
In the Old Testament, being a father means taking responsibility for the family. The job of a father was not to sit back and be served, but to protect, provide, and, when necessary, to redeem those under one’s care.
God is the ultimate Father. When He says, “You are mine,” He is stating that He himself takes responsibility to care for us.
How could anyone give up hope who is under the care of the Father of the Lord Jesus? The one who sent His Son to die for our sins will not withhold any needed grace to protect or provide for our wellbeing.
4 – The Gracious Intent of Affliction
There is no denying that this life is full of suffering. Yet, children of God need to understand that there is no suffering in our lives that is not for our ultimate good. God only places us in the furnace to refine and purify us. There is no such thing as pointless suffering in the Christian life.
One of the great gifts of affliction is communion with God. In Isaiah 43 we read, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.” Such is the testimony of believers from the Apostle Paul down through the martyrs and missionaries of the church. There is a special fellowship with God that is experienced when “walk through the flames” and discover that – right there in the midst of pain – God himself is holding our hand.
This knowledge can give us hope in times of suffering. In pain, we are not alone. The crucified Saviour communes with his people in a special way as they take up a cross and follow Him.
5 – The Outrageous Love of God for His People
One of the amazing statements in Isaiah 43 is when God says, “I give Egypt as your ransom.” No one in the ancient world would have traded Egypt for Israel. Egypt was one of the great civilizations from the dawn of history. Egypt had wealth, power, and prestige. Israel was poor, weak, and insignificant. And yet God’s values do not square with those of man. He loves us, not because of what we bring to the table, but simply because of His own free choice.
Still, Egypt is not an accurate measure of just how much God cares for us. The gospel reveals that God gave up something far greater than Egypt to ransom his people. He gave up His Son. Such is the outrageous love of God for His people, and such love is the basis of a defiant hope in the midst of our greatest trials.
By Joe Barnard