Lifted, Not Pulled

Psalm 107:26–29 “Their soul melted away in their misery. They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still.”

Isaiah 63:8–9 “For He said, ‘Surely, they are my people.’ … So He became their Savior. In all their affliction He was afflicted. …And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old.”

Observation: These verses reflect the depth of God’s commitment to His people as well as the extent of their need for Him. The imagery is of men so consumed with fear that they reeled and staggered as though drunk. Then in the depths of distress, when the troughs between towering waves seemed deepest, He suddenly calmed the storm and all was at peace.

Isaiah opened an additional dimension of understanding when he said that God Himself is afflicted with our afflictions. This statement goes beyond describing a divine cheerleader who from a safe shore says, “I’ve been through the same thing. I made it, and so can you!” No, in my affliction He was afflicted.

Application: This paints a picture of a God who is totally involved, of One who goes through that trough of despair with me, experiencing moment by moment what I am experiencing. But there comes a time when, in His love and mercy, He redeems me. He who is in the storm with me is my rescuer. Rather than being thrown a life preserver by a distant God who stands safely ashore, Isaiah says He lifts me and carries me.

This astonishing imagery of God’s suffering as I suffer exposes the lie of believing that God is somewhere “out there,” removed from the rocky rapids I am hurtling through. My tendency is to think I must try harder or call louder to reach Him. But no, to think that is to not know Him at all. My heart so easily forgets His intimate involvement with me. I must remember that my Savior is smack in the midst of whatever I am going through. His salvation is not so much to pull me ashore as it is to lift me above and out of my affliction.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I see why the image of the thrown life preserver is so inadequate in its portrayal. Your commitment to me is so profoundly complete that You are with me in the waters and in the fires that my heart fears could consume me. Thank You, Lord, for the reality of Your presence in all things that touch me. I face nothing alone, for You are with me. I love You, Lord.

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