Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Behold Your God

It's become a joke with the women around me that I can link anything back to the book of Isaiah. I love that book. And within that book, I especially love chapters 40-66. It's a section of hope and promise...chapter after chapter of the LORD declaring who He is, especially who He is for His people. But it's important to keep in mind that for those hearing it the first time, they wouldn't necessarily have heard it as good news.

Isaiah was writing about the future...He had just spent 39 chapters telling them what was wrong with their hearts and what was about to happen...that God is going to send His people into exile. They would lose their homes, their loved ones, their country. (On a side note: It's telling that the last story of chapter 39 is about Hezekiah learning that the kingdom was going to fall soon to Babylon and indeed nothing that is in the king's house will be left. The Babylonians will take it all, including Hezekiah's sons who will be in power then. Hezekiah's response to this? That's good news. WHAT? Yep. He thought it was a good word. Why? The Bible tells us in vs. 8 that Hezekiah said to himself: At least there will be peace and security while I'm still alive. He didn't even care about what will happen to his own children. Tragic.)

Then in chapter 40, God uses Isaiah to offer hope, but they don't do a great job of hearing it. The basic message is this: Though I'm about to destroy you, I will once again build you back up. Though you have transgressed against me, I will redeem you for My Name's sake. Rather than having His words bring them to repentance and remind them of their faithful, covenant God, the people remain as they were...hard-hearted, stubborn, faithless. It's like taking your child to the doctor and telling them that they are going to have to get a shot. I'm sure that you, like me, keep saying things after that sentence. Things like: It will only hurt for a short while. It's necessary because you're sick. It's to make sure that you stay healthy. It will protect you. It's going to be okay. But it's like they can't hear you. Their face stays set in fear and their eyes swim with tears, no matter how many words you say. That's what happens to us when God says: Here's a hard thing, but I will bring you through it. We stay focused on what's happening to us.

But God loves us and desires to comfort us, to help us through these times of loss. He wants Barry to hear Him in this time of loss. He desires to comfort Cecelia as she mourns her husband. He loves Sandy and wants her to hear Him. They aren't like the nation of Israel. They aren't being punished and being carried off into exile. But they can identify with the loss...and the message of comfort remains the same. What does He give them though? What message is He trying to get to us when hard times come? What are the words that He wants us to hear? The words that if we could hear His voice would bring us comfort?

The answer may surprise you. I'll give you a hint before I write here. He begins the passage with His desire to comfort, but it takes God 9 verses before the actual words of comfort begin. Three little words to hold on to...

No comments: