Sometimes it’s really easy for me to get discouraged when things around me don’t seem to be going anywhere, when my efforts seem pointless, when things just aren’t going the way I thought they would…with this, it’s also easy for me to forget that I’m reading the word every morning, every day, and learning new things about God that change everything.
I’m reading through the book of Isaiah right now. Honestly, coming up against the prophetic monster that is Isaiah has always been really intimidating for me. Each time I read through it, I understand more and more of how the prophecies connect to history and to the rest of the Bible, though some I’m still unsure about, still haven’t studied out just yet. But one thing that always strikes me about this book of the Bible, is how often and how long and how clearly God is speaking. God is One directly speaking, and even if I can’t understand all of the prophecies, what God says about Israel, about the New Testament church, about me, and especially about Christ tells me volumes about who He is. And what He says through Isaiah, what Isaiah says about Him…
“The Lord of hosts has sworn: As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand.” (Isaiah 14:24, the oracle concerning Assyria)
“When they cry to the Lord because of oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and deliver them. And the Lord will make himself known to the Egyptians, and the Egyptians will know the Lord in that day and worship with sacrifice and offering, and they will make vows to the Lord and perform them. And the Lord will strike Egypt, striking and healing, and they will return to the Lord, and he will listen to their pleas for mercy and heal them.” (Isaiah 19:20-22, the passage concerning the blessedness of Egypt, Assyria, and Israel)
“Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding?” (Isaiah 40:13-14, concerning the greatness of God)
“And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16, from the passage “Sing to the Lord a New Song”)
“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, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you.” (Isaiah 43:1-5, concerning Israel’s only Savior)
And I could go on. All of these, both in context and out of context, show me things about God that I’ve forgotten, like His majesty, and His fierceness, and His gentleness, and His great desire to protect and love His people, including me, the way He provided Christ for the world and for me individually, and the way He is so complete in Himself, so not passive about anything. There is nothing lukewarm, iffy, or gray about God. He is.
In the midst of an environment that seems like nothing is going anywhere, and the difficulties and conflicts remain the same, never to be solved, God’s word is a breath of fresh air. And then, when chaos reigns and too many things are changing all at once and confusion is my quite unwelcome companion, God’s word remains solid and still, taking me to a high Rock on which to stand above the storm.
I am doubting. I’m doubting that any of what’s happening right now will work out, and I can’t even imagine what it would look like after it’s all worked out. There’s so much deep hurt, so much fear, so much uncertainty, and it’s just about ready to swallow me up. And yet, here is God, saying without any hesitancy or doubt in His own capabilities to protect me, grow me, challenge me, and comfort me, “Fear not, for I am with you.” Fear not why? Because God is with me.
It can be easy to say “Oh yeah, God is good, and He’s always with me” but not really believe it or understand what it actually means. But in the moments when it’s easy to feel alone, or when loneliness is my actual state, remembering that I’m not doing this, this whole life thing, on my own, it makes me want to cry with relief, and I do this often. Knowing that I have God, the Creator of my being, the Lover of my soul, the Caretaker and Protector of my heart, and the valiant White Rider of my war, the skeletons in my closet are much less intimidating, the temptations to fear much less tempting, and the darkness of circumstances much lighter.
“The Mighty One, God the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.” —Psalm 50:2