When people hear my story, how we lost our three-year-old son to strep throat, they often say, “I couldn’t do it.” Sometimes, if they’re bold enough, they ask, “How do you do it?” If they’re carrying deep scars, they might ask why I worship a God who would allow such pain.
My answer is the same to all three: the certainty of the character of God. I can live a joyful life, even without Austin Lee Erickson, because God always keeps His promises. God has promised an eternal life of glory to all who believe in His Son, Jesus Christ. God has promised to fix this broken world—someday. Someday, God will wipe the tears from my eyes. Someday, there will be no more sorrow, no more pain, no more death. God has promised a new heaven and a new earth where the curse of sin will be gone and we will live in harmony with our God (Rev. 21:1–7).
How can I be sure of all this? Because prophecy tells me so.
Studying my Bible became my lifeline in the deep, dark pit of grieving a child. Until we lost Austin, I did not believe in Jesus as my Savior and Lord. I knew about Him, but I didn’t put my faith in Him. I went through the traditions of my upbringing, which involved Jesus, but my heart never followed and my mind rejected the simplicity of the gospel. I pushed God and Jesus away—until He shattered my heart into a thousand pieces on the morning of April 25, 2008.
How could such immense pain lead a non-believer toward God instead of away? Because God still rescues people. He rescued me that day. A short time later, I received my first Bible. But I began to read it with much skepticism. Although I had finally surrendered my life to Jesus for salvation, I had yet to experience the power and truth contained in the Bible.
Have You Experienced the Miracle of Scripture?
Studying the Gospel of John taught me that God loves me, really and truly loves me, just as I am. Studying the Old Testament taught me about atonement and (finally) helped me understand why Jesus is the only Way, the Truth, and the Life.
But studying the book of Isaiah settled something deep in my soul; studying Isaiah settled the issue of God’s character for me. Discovering that Isaiah’s words came true, over and over again, taught me that God always does what He says He’s going to do. Always. Being sure of this fact is what most often pulls me out of deep grieving.
Prophecy is my lifeline to joy. Prophecy fulfilled is the evidence my mind needed to push aside human reasoning or the world’s logic. Prophecy stopped my paralysis by analysis and allowed me to take that step of faith in the Bible as the Word of God.
If Jesus and the Bible being God’s Word are already settled in your mind and heart, how can studying prophecy help you?
- By keeping your awe and wonder about God fresh and active.
- By developing greater intimacy with God.
How’s Your Awe and Wonder?
Do you open your Bible excited for God to show you something new? When you turn the pages of Scripture, can you feel the Holy Spirit stirring inside your soul?
Maybe you’ve “lost that loving feeling” of your new-believer enthusiasm. Believe me, it happens to most of us. Try turning to Isaiah. Yep, the Old Testament. Listen to our God speaking to His people. Hear what was heavy on His heart. Yet, keep reading, and hear the comfort He provides each time He pronounces difficult things to come. Every. Single. Time.
Check out Isaiah 43:1–4 ESV:
But now thus says the LORD,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“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 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.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you.”
We serve a God who never lets us dangle in a place of hopelessness. Through His Word, He always reminds us that He reigns. He tells us time and time again that He alone is God. God continues to declare that He will rescue His people, promising them a Redeemer and a future glory. After every message from Isaiah about judgment comes an instruction to repent—followed by a promise of a future where He will redeem them and restore His glory.
Are all of the passages in Isaiah as easy to read and understand as this passage? No, but God is worthy of the work it takes to study prophecy. Grab a good study Bible. Use a trusted commentary. The Holy Spirit will help you. Your relationship with God is worth the effort.
How’s Your Intimacy with God?
One indicator of your intimacy with God is where you turn in the moment trouble strikes. Is your first reaction to cry out to God? Or call your best friend? Or post on social media?
When I received the call from our nanny, screaming that the ambulance was at our house, I was so far from God I didn’t even think to pray. I didn’t call out to Him. It didn’t occur to me. It never crossed my mind.
And yet, God rescued me in that very moment. He allowed me to feel, very briefly, what Austin must have been feeling. Euphoric. Elated. Happy. Loved. Pure. I’m writing these words, but they fail to describe a fleeting feeling I had in my car on the way to the hospital. In that moment, God allowed me to understand that He is real and heaven is beyond description.
Since that day, I’ve been on a mission to know the Person who has my son, who rescued me despite my rejection, and what heaven will be like when my family is whole again.
Studying prophecy increased my intimacy with God because I discovered that God always does what He says He’s going to do. You can trust someone like that. You can depend on someone like that. Once my trust was established, I realized that I could be vulnerable with God. I could share my true feelings, my questions, even my anger at losing our son.
When you are intimate with God, you realize that He is big enough to handle all of you. You can show Him every part of your heart, your emotions, your thoughts.
Have you reached a level of intimacy with God where you hold nothing back, where you lay everyone and everything you hold dear at His feet? Do you trust Him that much?
If not, don’t be discouraged. Intimacy takes time and a willingness to dig deep. Isaiah is the prophet most quoted by Jesus and the New Testament. In fact, Jesus began His public ministry by reading from Isaiah and telling everyone in the synagogue that the prophecy He just read was fulfilled that day, by Him.
Why does God tell us what’s going to happen before it happens? There’s no need to wonder.
Through Isaiah, God told us:
“Who is like me? Let him proclaim it.
Let him declare and set it before me,
since I appointed an ancient people.
Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen.
Fear not, nor be afraid;
have I not told you from of old and declared it?
And you are my witnesses!
Is there a God besides me?
There is no Rock; I know not any.” (Isaiah 44:7–8 ESV)
God essentially challenges us to check His work. Read the prophecies and see who declared what was to come. Check your history and confirm what happened to the Jewish people after Isaiah’s prophecies. You’ll find that what God says comes true.
Jesus also used prophecy in His final teaching to help us with our trust in Him:
I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‟He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.” I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. (John 13:18–19 ESV)
Jesus confirmed that the prophecies about Him must be fulfilled—and then they were. It’s astonishing if you think about it.
Like any relationship, trust leads to greater intimacy. Your willingness to seek intimacy with God governs so many of your daily choices. Will you choose faith over fear? Joy over sorrow? Steadfast certainty or doubts?
Greater intimacy with God means you’re more likely to surrender every part of your life to Him, setting aside self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency can lead to prideful striving or fearful fleeing. Relying on God is difficult. Impatience or fear can override even the strongest faith if there’s no intimacy between you and God.
Spend time with God through His Word. Let prophecy increase your awe and wonder at our awesome God. Allow fulfilled Scripture to build more trust and intimacy between you and God until you are certain of His character and your place in heaven.