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Passing through the Waters

By: Deb Montcalm

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. Isaiah 43:2

This verse first came to my attention in 1989 as I was going through a very difficult work situation. My unwillingness to cooperate with an unethical supervisor resulted in her daily efforts to make my life as miserable as possible, and it worked. My mornings, lunch hours, and evenings were spent in prayer, Bible reading, and often tears trying to sort out why God “allowed” me to take this job. After 2 years and 8 months with no answers nor any reason to stay, I left my job.

Fast forward to 1998 practically to the day, I started a new but very similar job at the same institution, only this time for a supervisor who was the polar opposite of the previous one. I enjoyed my job and all of the people I worked with. Then the blow came. My supervisor was advancing to a higher position at another institution. I had no clue that my next supervisor would be a carbon copy of the one I had 9 years earlier.

Having grown older, and maybe a tiny bit wiser, I eventually realized I was basically back in the same situation I had been in back in 1989-91. Surely this wasn’t a coincidence. This time, though, instead of asking God why and wallowing in worry and self-pity, I asked Him what He was trying to teach me. For the second time, at the same place, with a significant number of similarities, I found myself in a situation that was totally out of my control.

I went back to my Bible and read all the same verses I had highlighted before to get me through each day. As I read Isaiah 43:2, one word seemed to jump off the page: through. When I pass through the waters, when I pass through the rivers, and walk through the fires, God is with me, and I am protected. Nowhere in that verse does God say He’ll take me out of the trials, but He’ll be with me and protect me through them. True to His Word, He did. Once I learned the lesson our loving, gracious, merciful, wise, and all-powerful Father wanted to teach me, it was over. Within a few short months after learning this important lesson, my supervisor announced she was leaving to take a position at another institution (which, I later learned, was at the strong advice of her immediate supervisor).

The lesson? When life is out of control, remember God is always in control.

Currently, life is out of our control, and it all has happened so quickly. The terrorist attacks on 9/11 changed everything in a matter of hours, and again, we had no control. But we have a God Who is completely in control. Those things that change our world and our lives in months, weeks, days, hours, or even moments never take God by surprise. And He has a plan already in place (several of them, likely) to take us through the unknown, the unexpected.

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