“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. 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. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour” Isaiah 43:1
In 1989 Armenia was hit with an earthquake which killed more than 30 000 people in less than four minutes. After the earthquake hit a father rushed to the school where his son was supposed to be and discovered the building to be no more than a pancake of debris. He was shocked, and as the tears filled his eyes and the hopelessness of the situation became apparent he remembered how he had promised his son, “No matter what, I’ll always be there for you!”
After the trauma of his initial shock the father determined to act on the commitment he had made his son and remembering that his son’s classroom was in the back right corner of the building he began digging through the rubble with his bare hands.
As he dug other well-meaning parents tried to pull him away from the task saying, “It’s too late!” “They’re dead!” “You can’t help!” “Go home!” “You’re just going to make things worse!” To each parent he simply responded, “Are you going to help me now?” Then the fire chief arrived and he tried to pull the man off the debris because of the fires that were breaking out. But the man persisted. Nothing could deter him. Soon the police appeared on the scene and said, “You’re angry, distraught, and it’s over. You’re endangering others. Go home. We’ll handle it!” To which he replied, “Are you going to help me now?” No one helped.
He dug for eight hours … twelve hours … twenty-four hours … and as he dug he kept wondering whether his son was dead or alive. He dug for thirty-six hours … then, in the thirty-eighth hour, he pulled back a boulder and heard his son’s voice. He screamed his son’s name, “Armand!” His son replied, “Dad!? It’s me, Dad! I told the other kids not to worry. I told them that if you were alive, you’d save me and when you saved me, they’d be saved. You promised, ‘No matter what, I’ll always be there for you!’ You did it Dad!”
There were fourteen out of thirty-three children in Armand’s class who survived. The building had collapsed in such a way that it made a wedge and it was in this space that the scared, hungry, and thirsty children had lain waiting for help. Armand helped push all the other children out before he would get out because, as he said, “Dad, let the other kids out first because I know you’ll get me! No matter what, I know you’ll be there for me!”
Like Armand’s father the heavenly Father is always there for you. That’s a certainty. His Word confirms it and His character guarantees it. No matter what happens He will never leave you nor forsake you. So don’t throw in the towel. No matter what it takes the Father will never give up, never tire, never stop doing His very best for you. As He says in Isaiah 43:1-3, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. 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. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.”