Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Sometimes life is simply hard, isn’t it? Email prayer requests come daily, and some cause me to realize anew just how hard life can be. But take heart! The NIV Bible on my phone sends me a chapter early every morning, and today’s was Isaiah 43. This chapter has been dear to my heart for years and at the end of this message you’ll find a poem I wrote a long time ago. Today, however, I turned on my computer and read that selection from The Message Bible[1]. How directly it speaks to us when life’s hard places hit us and try to overcome us!

Isaiah 43:1-5: But now, God’s Message (to you), the God who made you in the first place, Jacob, [insert your name instead] the One who got you started, Israel [The patriarch Jacob was renamed Israel by God]: “Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end — Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you! [Jesus’ death on the cross for your sins] . . . That’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you. So don’t be afraid: I’m with you.”

With encouragement like that, how can we not meet the challenges that face us daily. Yes, some situations are much worse than others, but like a beautiful rose bush has thorns, so does life. We simply rejoice when those thorns are tiny and not overwhelming. But even when they are, our personal God – notice that’s who God says He is – is there with us and promises they won’t totally overcome us. He is in charge! Not our serious conditions.

The best way to get through our deep waters is to rejoice. You say, that doesn’t make sense. No, it doesn’t; we’d rather worry about what to do. But when we look at Paul in prison, unable to travel and do what God has called him to do, he says in Philippians 4:4, Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! How does that make any sense? Because we are focusing on God, not on our problem. Faith rises when we look at our Lord God Almighty and we realize absolutely nothing is too hard for him! Then we remember what He says about us in Isaiah 43, and we know we will overcome the storm; it won’t overwhelm us. So we are filled with peace, knowing that no matter what, our ever-loving Father God will guide us through our tough circumstances.

The Waters

When the waters pass over your head,
Stand thou still.
This thing is allowed of Me;
It is within my will.
Running will not help;
Fighting will get you down.
Only by standing still,
Can you win the victor’s crown.

When the waters pass over your head,
Simply be still and rest;
Relax in my strength alone;
I will bring you through the test.

No matter how deep the waters appear,
The way up ahead is clear.
Simply standing, resting
Will bring you through this testing.

(See Isaiah 43:2; 30:15-21; Jeremiah 29:11.)


[1] THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.