Isaiah 43, verse 2 reads: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.’ (New International Version)

Awe-inspiring promises for sure, but is it true that God meant these for ordinary people like you and I when he inspired the prophet to write them?

The answer, based on my own experience of doing life with the Saviour, is a resounding ‘yes’.

My forthcoming book ‘Trading Places’, which recounts how God has taken me from the incubator of a premature baby who wasn’t expected to live, let alone become a newspaper journalist and published author, is testament to His unique ability to nurture and protect even the weakest of His creations.

My journey to this point has not been without its challenges.  At just a few months old, I was effectively written off at ‘retarded’ by a Consultant Paediatrician. Though hailed as a ‘very bright boy’ at eight, by the time I was 15, another top medic labelled me as ‘slow to learn’.  Add to that getting slapped around secondary school by jealous bullies and being told by teachers that I was ‘too nicey, nicey’ and you will realise that I would have fried in metaphorical fire had it not been for the protective hand of our loving, all-powerful God on my life.

Not only has He kept my head above water in ‘sweeping rivers’, God has enabled me to use my experience to encourage others whether through pen or spoken word.  I have, by His grace, been fortified with a courage and resilience that has enabled me to change the spheres I inhabit for my good and the good of others.

Far from being broken by the issues that beset my childhood and teenage years, I feel that God has empowered me through these experiences and given me a life which is rich beyond compare.

Truly I can sing with the hymnwriter, Emma M Bevin, (1827-1909) that:

‘Now none but Christ can satisfy,
None other name for me!
There’s love, and life, and lasting joy,
Lord Jesus, found in Thee.’

If you are a struggling believer, take inspiration from these words and from Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Isaiah 43.  Here, God is quoted as saying:

“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
    I’ve called your name. You’re mine.

God never said that life on earth would be easy, but He did promise that no-one would be tested beyond what they could endure. (1 Corinthians 10:13)    The Lord works only for the good of those who love Him, (Romans 8:28) and there is no circumstance that can separate us from His love. (Romans 8: 38-39)

It doesn’t matter who you are or what situation to find yourself in, you matter to God, every one of his created beings count, there are no exceptions.

Joe Boyd