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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, January 14, 2019

Today’s Scripture Reading | Isaiah 43:1–7

But now thus says the Lord,
   he who created you, O Jacob,
   he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
   I have called you by name, you are mine.
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, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
   Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my sight,
   and honored, and I love you,
I give people in return for you,
   nations in exchange for your life.
Do not fear, for I am with you;
   I will bring your offspring from the east,
   and from the west I will gather you;
I will say to the north, “Give them up,”
   and to the south, “Do not withhold;
bring my sons from far away
   and my daughters from the end of the earth—
everyone who is called by my name,
   whom I created for my glory,
   whom I formed and made.” (NRSV)

Whenever we prepare for a trip, whether heading across town or to distant destinations, we are never quite sure how the voyage will go. Unknown to us are the adversities we’ll find along the way. These might include inclement weather, forgotten or lost luggage, inadequate accommodations, a delayed flight, or a car that never comes. Journeys are perilous endeavors, and we often seek assurances that they will be safe or that the effort to reach our destination will be worthwhile. This passage from Isaiah hearkens back to a time when God’s exiled people were on a journey of their own. They prayed for a new Exodus that would bring the scattered Jewish people from the places where they fled or were held captive when mighty Jerusalem fell a generation ago. They sought to be gathered back to their homes in a land that was secure and where they might flourish.

God, in Isaiah, reassures these would-be travelers longing for the journey home. Raging waters will not overwhelm them and neither would fire consume, promised the prophet. These promises did not dismiss the inevitable challenges of their journey but sought to steady the people’s resolve by reminding them that they are God’s own beloved, even in the midst of a future that looked unclear. Like our forebears in faith, we too need this tender reassurance on our spiritual and personal journeys. Successes or smooth roads are not promised, but the faithfulness of God promises to bring us through.

Prayer: God, our companion through exile and exodus, as we take another step this day on our journey, surround us with your presence, strength, and hope. Fill us with the knowledge that no matter what comes our way, we are beloved. Amen.

Written by Joseph L. Morrow, Minister for Evangelism

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