Isaiah 50:4-7, 9 The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will. The Sovereign Lord has spoken to me, and I have listened. I have not rebelled or turned away. I offered my back to those who beat me and my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard. I did not hide my face from mockery and spitting. Because the Lord God helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame . . . See, the Sovereign Lord is on my side! [The ESV and other translations say But the Lord God helps me in verse 7.]
Looking for comfort this morning in light of so much tough stuff going on in the world, in the lives of dear friends, and for this week of remembering Karis’s death, the Lord took me to this passage that meant so much to Karis. It’s a Messianic psalm, brought to life personally for Karis with her vision of Jesus bearing her scars, that I’ve written about before. Karis felt shame for the ways medications and all of her medical trauma altered her appearance. She felt shame that she was not “accomplishing anything” with her life, compared to her friends at Notre Dame. She felt shame that she required so much attention, care, and resources to support her “useless life.” Sometimes it was hard for her to view all this through the lens of grace.
But the Lord, Sovereign over her life as over the universe, helped her. He spoke to her with words of comfort and direction. He is the same Sovereign Lord we can run to in our weariness and weakness and shame and distress.
This week I watched an interview of James Comey, former director of the FBI. He spoke candidly about how difficult it was for him and for his family to be the object of distrust, misunderstanding and scorn from people on both sides of the political spectrum. He and his wife Patrice deliberately chose a path away from the shaming and anger and bitterness, asking the question, “How can we respond to this situation in a way that brings life to ourselves and to others?” He has given me a real-life model I will not soon forget, as well as some great teaching about leadership. You can watch the whole amazing conversation here: https://www.better-angels.org/james-comey-on-the-better-angels-podcast/?link_id=1&can_id=5b5162cf4dd7d2f83f82112485324def&source=email-james-comey-on-the-better-angels-podcast&email_referrer=email_712487&email_subject=james-comey-on-the-better-angels-podcast
And one other thing I want to share with you this morning is Zechariah 1:12-13. Zechariah hears an angel questioning God (!): The angel of the Lord prayed this prayer: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, for seventy years now you have been angry with Jerusalem and the towns of Judah. How long until you again show mercy to them?” And the Lord spoke kind and comforting words to the angel who talked with me.
Even angels question! Even the angels need comfort, and God provides it!
Often, I too ask the Lord “How long?” about one situation or another. How long until Venezuela is freed from tyranny? How long until my friend can find relief within her so-difficult family situation? How long must my friend suffer intense pain and limitations? How long until true justice rules in our country? How long until light shines into another friend’s seemingly unresolvable challenges? How long, how long . . .
The kind and comforting words the Lord is speaking to me this morning are about his sovereignty, his compassion, and about his practical help. He walks with us.
Open my eyes today, Lord, to see your face. Open my ears to hear your voice. Open my mind to understand your will and the help you are providing for TODAY. Open my heart to grow in trusting you. Open my soul to receive your comfort.