Yesterday was my 59th birthday! I’m grateful to God to be alive. Neither my gratitude nor my joy can be tamped down—by any or all of that. Now, I understand, more than ever before, how short and precious life is. Younger people may hear that reflection, and it will register only intellectually. My peers in age may say, “Rev., I know exactly what you mean,” which is an expression of experiential identification. However, I can imagine those of you who are older are saying, “Rev, you think you know, but just wait…”. In short, our response to anything depends on where we are in our journey and how much wisdom we’ve gathered along the way.
In Isaiah 46, the Lord makes a promise which gives us reason to rejoice, no matter which season of life we are facing. Speaking to believers who are putting up with and pushing through a painful, difficult season, the Lord promises us in Verse 3-4:
NRSV, 3-4: Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from your birth, carried from the womb;Even to your old age I am he, even when you turn gray I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and I will save.
Listen to the same line in the Message Version, which makes the promise pop even more:
MSG, 3-4: “Listen to me, family of Jacob, everyone that’s left of the family of Israel. I’ve been carrying you on my back from the day you were born, 4 And I’ll keep on carrying you when you’re old. I’ll be there, bearing you when you’re old and gray. I’ve done it and will keep on doing it, carrying you on my back, saving you.
Verse 3 alerts us that while there are survivors, some people did not make it. The Lord does not share what, in particular, took those people out. Was it an ancient pandemic? Did people die in the siege of their nation’s capital, Jerusalem? Were they casualties of war, who lost their lives defending against either the Assyrian or Babylonian invasion? Were they captives who died en route to the foreign country where they were to serve as cheap sources of labour—or more accurately, free sources of labour–slaves? Were they people who died of sheer terror and trauma? We don’t know. What we do know, however, is that the Lord wants to shift their attention away from their tragic past and to give them confidence as they face an uncertain future.
While facing the future, we can be confident because:
➢ The Lord has carried us from birth, individually and corporately, historically and presently.
➢ The Lord will continue to carry us through things and on to places of greater maturity.
The word for carry comes from a Hebrew which pictures a beast of burden, like a mule or an ox, carrying a heavy load. I mention that titbit because it ought to remind you and me that life’s burden may get too heavy to carry, even with God-given strength. However, there is nothing too heavy for God to carry. If we give our burdens to God, God will answer by lightening our load by sending someone who can help us shoulder it during our daily quiet time. Or, God will relieve us of the burden, totally and wondrously.
Moreover, we can be confident because:
➢ The Lord will continue to step in and save us from whatever and whomever, whenever and wherever.
In effect, the Lord says, “I’ve got you! I’ve had your back in the past, have your back in the present, and will have your back in the future. How can we know this? The answer: 1) God has said so, and 2) God is invested in our health and happinessbecause we belong to Him. We belong to him. We don’t belong to Him like a possession owned by a purchaser, but like parents who always take care of and take up for their children.
Therefore, we can be confident the Lord has our back no matter what happens in 2021. If that does not take the load of worry and fear off our backs, I don’t know what will.
Thought For The Day: Nothing will happen today that the Lord will not help me handle.