Isaiah 43: 1-7 in time of COVID-19

Rev. Dr. Niveen Sarras

Isaiah43: 1-7 in time of COVID-19

March 22, 2020


Grace and peace to you from God the Father and Jesus Christ, our Savior.

I miss all of you, and I always remember you in my prayer. This journey of lent is very challenging. I know that the spreading of COVID-19 has distracted us from Lent. Instead of walking the extra mile in our faith journey by praying more, meditating more, helping our disadvantaged neighbor more, we find ourselves spending more on social media or watching TV to get the latest news and updates on the COVID-19 pandemic.  We now live in fear. COVID-19 fears lead to unnecessary panic shopping, which causes the running out of stock of some household items and food. “Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children.”[1] Stress makes you extra vulnerable to the virus outbreak. My concern is not COVID-19 as much as the fear and anxiety we are dealing with every moment.

The response to our anxiety and fear comes from the book of Isaiah, chapter 43.


But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.


Isaiah's message is overwhelmingly positive and comforting. You might feel that God is speaking to you through Isaiah 43. You might think that this poem is very suitable for our current circumstances. Before we rush to apply Isaiah 43 to ourselves, let me explain to you the context of the poem.

Isaiah 43 was written to the Israelites in the Babylonian exile to encourage them to go back to Jerusalem and to rebuild the temple. Because the Judeans were a minority, they lived in fear from the nations around them. The Israelites needed to hear reassurance of divine love, protection, and presence. This poem “speaks tender, encouraging, empowering words to those who faced an uncertain future. In their original context, the words in this passage helped motivate Judean exiles to embrace their faith and return to Jerusalem to rebuild.”[2]


The poem in Isaiah 43 spoke to ancient Judeans, who faced a crisis. This poem speaks to us today as we are facing the COVID-19 crisis.  God commands us, “do not fear.” You should not fear because God has redeemed you. Remember that Jesus is called Savior and Redeemer. Our Lord Jesus saved and redeemed you from sin and death, and he will sustain you in trials like COVID-19. You should not fear, God is not only your Redeemer but also your creator. God created and formed you. God knows your name, and you belong to God. If God is your Creator, Redeemer, and Savior then God is responsible for your well-being. Fear not because you do not belong to COVID-19. You belong to the Lord. God has a special and unique claim upon you. Notice that the command “do not fear” is accompanied by promises in verse 2.  God promises you

2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.

Notice that the text does not say when your life is secure, and your health is good, I will be with you. God promises to be with you in the toughest of circumstances. Trials come in different forms: they could come like water, rivers, fire. or COVID-19. In all these trials, God promises you, “I will be with you; do not fear.”  Our biggest trial now is COVID-19. God commands you not to fear because God promises to be present in your life. God promises you to protect you.


 My beloved church, this promise in Isaiah should not be taken as a reason not to follow COVID-19 precautions. No, this text from Isaiah assures you of God’s presence and protection to give you strength and peace in your hearts so you will not become a prisoner of your fears and anxiety. Hold on Jesus’ promise in Matthew 28: 20, “I am with you always to the end of the age.” Jesus promises to be with you always, but that does not mean that you or your loved one will not get COVID-19. COVID-19 will infect you if you act recklessly.


In time such this, hold on God’s promises of protection and comforting. I encourage you to come daily before the throne of God, confess your sins and ask God, through Jesus Christ, to give you peace, comfort, and wisdom.  Finally, I would like to end with a verse from 1Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.”


[1] “Manage Anxiety,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, March 14, 2020,


[2] Charles L. Aaron, Jr., “Commentary On Isaiah 43: 1-7,” Working Preacher, January 13, 2019,