God’s Promise: I Am With You
Lesson Six: God with Us Through Our Trials
Primary Scripture: Isaiah 41:8–13; Isaiah 43:1–7; Psalm 46:1–11
After wending its way through five lessons and ten different Bible stories, the God’s Promise study has found its way to some of my very favorite scripture passages. These are some real treasures, y’all. Isaiah 41 and 43 and Psalm 46 remind us that God isn’t with us just because God—out of some divine obligation—promised to be. Rather, God’s persistent presence is precious evidence of God’s love. God chooses, again and again, to walk alongside and respond to and rescue God’s people, not out of obligation, but out of love for us.
I’m reminded of two little kids I used to nanny for 20 years ago—a 7-year-old girl and her 4-year-old brother. The little girl was very creative and she had a great imagination. She loved to read and make up stories and pretend. I remember when I would arrive early in the morning, just as the sprinkler system was shutting off, and almost every day I found her squatting down on the sidewalk, carrying on conversations with the snails that had crawled out of the damp earth in the garden. There were usually a dozen or so and Emma would greet them, “Hi Rachel, what a pretty shell you have! Hello Robert, you’re moving very quickly today. It’s nice to see you, Meredith and Jennifer. Watch out little Joseph, there’s a stick in your way.” Every day, like a teacher greeting a kindergarten class, she would talk to her snails as they made their way back to the dirt.
Her brother, Bryan, was the most destructive child I have ever known, but endearingly so. I really don’t think he meant to destroy, he just couldn’t seem to keep himself from it. If he was alone for more than a few minutes, you could be sure he’d soon appear in front of you and say, “Wow! Look what I did!” And when you followed him to his room, you’d find he had systematically cut through all the strings on his mini-blinds. “Wow! Look what I did!” And the wicker clothes hamper was unwoven. “Wow! Look what I did!” And you’d find the kitty litter filling the garbage disposal. Luckily, the more destructive “Wow! Look what I dids!” happened on his parents’ watch—like gluing his eye shut with metal glue and disassembling the backyard sprinkler system. One fateful morning, however, I hadn’t been there long when Bryan came in and announced to Emma and me, “Wow, look what I did!” With dread, we followed him outside. And there on the sidewalk were about a dozen crushed snails. “I jumped on all of them!” he said with some excitement, and truly, no malice.
Emma, of course, burst into tears at the sight of her shelled friends smeared on the concrete. I took Bryan by the hand and told him that what he had done was very wrong and I asked why he did that to his sister’s snails. Looking sorry, he shrugged and said, “I didn’t know they mattered to her.”
Emma’s jaw dropped in disbelief and, with tears running down her cheeks, she wailed, “I knew their names!”
Of course they mattered to her. She loved those snails so much she called them by name. How could there be any doubt?
Listen to God from Isaiah 43:1, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” Did you hear how we matter to God? God calls us by name, and God calls us God’s own. And then, just in case we miss it, or forget it, God says in verse 4, as plainly as God can: “you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.”
As you know, the waters rise. We face trials far worse than crushed snails. But the God who knows your name and holds you fast is with you, all the way through.
Of the many precious and poetic reminders of God’s love in Isaiah 41 and 43 and Psalm 46, Isaiah 43:1 is one of my favorites. What verse speaks to you?
Amy Poling Sutherlun
Author of the 2018–2019 PW/Horizons Bible Study
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