When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. Isaiah 43:2
The ball drops in New York’s Times Square. The crowd counts down to Big Ben chiming. Sydney Harbor erupts in fireworks. However your city marks it, there’s something exciting about welcoming in a new year and the fresh start it brings. On New Year’s Day we push out into new waters. What friendships and opportunities might we find?
For all its excitement, though, a new year can be unsettling. None of us knows the future or what storms it may hold. Many New Year’s traditions reflect this: Fireworks were invented in China to supposedly ward off evil spirits and make a new season prosperous. And New Year’s resolutions date back to the Babylonians who made vows to appease their gods. Such acts were an attempt to make an unknown future secure.
When they weren’t making vows, the Babylonians were busy conquering people—including Israel. In time, God sent the enslaved Jews this message: “Do not fear . . . . When you pass through the waters, I will be with you” (Isaiah 43:1–2). Later, Jesus said something similar when He and the disciples were caught sailing in a violent storm. “Why are you so afraid?” He told them before commanding the waters to be still (Matthew 8:23–27).
Today we push out from the shore into new, uncharted waters. Whatever we face, He’s with us—and He has the power to calm the waves.
What possibilities excite you as you look forward to a new year? What worries can you place in God’s hands?
God, thank You that whatever this new year brings, You will be with me in it.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary points out that the phrase “but now” (or “and now”), which launches Isaiah 43:1, is a repeating feature of this section of Isaiah’s prophecy. It’s also found in 44:1; 49:5; and 52:5. In a section that boldly promises God’s rescue of the people of Israel, the phrase “but now” sets God’s promised rescue in contrast to the discipline He’s brought upon His people because of their chronic waywardness (see Isaiah 42). The vital thing to remember, however, is that God’s acts of correction and rescue are both expressions of His love for His people. Though they’d rejected His love, He loved them to the point of disciplining them for their wrongful actions. Then He loved them enough to bring them home.