“When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: When thou walkest through the fire, thou shall not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”
– Isaiah 43:2
We live in uncertain times, amid the shadow of appalling statistics of unemployment, illiteracy, family disintegration, high crime rate, terrorist attacks and most recently, the lunatic Humpty Dumpty #45 in the White House. Indeed this is the spring of our discontent-the best of times, the worst of times. But for the children of God there is an undergirding, a foundation of supreme support and deliverance, that enables them to hold on during times of great trials and tribulations.
In his classic book Future Shock, Alvin Toffler speaks of the survival of the fittest in terms of one’s psychological adaptation of “goodness of fit” to the environment. Toffler’s thesis is that change is occurring at such a rapid rate in society that we are unable to keep up and as a result, we are developing extreme stress that will shock many people as we enter the future. He says that survival in the 21” century and beyond will be contingent upon our ability to adapt to the phenomenon of change in creative ways. This is a psychological passage.
Gail Sheehy, past writer for the N.Y. Times Newspaper talks about life in her book, titled Passages. These passages are represented as decades.
Thus, there is the decade of adolescence, the decade of the trying 20’s, the catch-30’s-putting down roots, marriage, and family, the mid-life decade-reassessment, authenticating ourselves and moving into maturity and so forth. This is a psychosocial passage.
In the religious and faith culture, we have the ceremonies that mark the passage from one stage in life to another. The Jews have their bar mitzvah; Africans and African-Americans, the Rites of Passage and the Christians, the Salvation Process.
In this passage of scripture (Isa 43:2) we are concerned with the deliverance of the Jews from captivity, of their redemption and restoration. But, in a deeper sense we also look forward to the redemption of all humankind through the blood of Jesus Christ. We look forward to the victory of the Church. “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee…”
This is the special promise of God that He makes to his people in their affliction, of his presence with them. God makes known his support under them and their deliverance out of the affliction, (v. 17)
Part II – Next Week
The Reverend Dr. Rebecca R. Rivka, LPC, is former School Psychologist, Portsmouth and Norfolk Virginia Public Schools; (ret.) Professor of Psychology, Norfolk State University; (ret.) Professional Counselor, Commonwealth of Virginia; former Local Elder, New Saint John AME Church, Virginia Beach, VA; current Senior Local Elder, Saint John’s African Methodist Episcopal Church, Norfolk, VA. The Reverend John D. Burton, Senior Pastor.