Sunday, February 25, 2018

Seeing a Familiar Passage in a New Light

Do you know the feeling when you read a passage that is so very familiar to you, and you notice something you’ve never noticed before? That happened to me a few weeks ago, and the passage was the well-known chapter 40 of the book Isaiah. Interestingly enough, I’d even memorized portions of this passage in years past. On this particular morning as I opened my Bible, I was longing to sense God’s presence, to be reminded again of his care for me as an individual. My devotional had me begin reading at verse 12, “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in balance?”

I am sure you know this passage; it goes on to explain that God is far above us, that he is not like us, that he needs no counselor to tell him what to do.  “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales. […] It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers” (verses 15 & 22). While this is an incredible passage of God’s “otherness,” showing us his power and his glory, it makes us feel small and unimportant. If I am a “grasshopper” or a “speck of dust,” what do I matter to a God to whom earth is just a footstool?
But the beauty of this passage is that it not only shows us God’s “otherness” but also his nearness. This is what my heart needed that morning.

Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord and my right is disregarded by my God’? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (verses 27-31).

Yes, God is far beyond us in every way. We are as nothing before him, but he cares about us as individuals in our nothingness. Ultimately he showed this in sending his Son to be our rescuer, but even before Christ came, his care is seen. It is seen all throughout the stories of the  Old Testament, but also in passages like this one that remind weary and needy hearts that the same God who is transcendent and sovereign is also near. He sees us and cares.

Your way is not hidden from God. We may not understand everything he does in our lives, for “his understanding is unsearchable,” yet we can know that he is near and that he gives power, strength, and perseverance to those who wait on him.  Be encouraged, my dear sister in Christ.

[As a side note, for further encouragement from this chapter, meditate on verse 11: “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.”]

--Amy O'Rear

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