OUR SUFFERING IS REAL. BUT SO IS GOD.

In Isaiah 62:1-5, good news comes from God’s own lips. “I will not be silent,” he shouts to his people. “I will not rest. I will vindicate you. You will be a crown of beauty in my hands.”

These are words that would put anyone at ease. Our lives are now in God’s hands! But in the context of this passage, people still struggled to find comfort. Even when it was freely given to them.

In the chapters before, the prophet Isaiah announced God’s intentions of defeating their captors. God promised to return his people from exile. And he did what he promised. But all was still not right.

In the chapters that follow, God’s people found freedom. But they saw nothing but the long arduous process of restoring and rebuilding Jerusalem. Their worry mirrors our own congregation’s journey over the past decade or so.

We have come so far from our days of schism and grief. God has been good to us. And we have all stuck together as a community of faith. The adversity we experienced helped strengthen us.

But doubt still lingers in our hearts.

Yes we know that we are in good standing with the Diocese again. Yes, our finances have vastly improved. But look at how few people we are!

We need to grow to survive. We need young families here. We need this and that. The more we talk like this, the more we convince ourselves of the great difficulty of rebuilding and restoration.

Or how about when you look at your personal life. God is real in your life. But so is your struggle. You love God and God loves you. But you still have money problems. Your health is waning. You’re getting older and feel more and more alone.

So where is the hope? Where can you and I find comfort?

When you hear God’s words in Isaiah, he isn’t just displaying power. He is showing you how much he knows your heart. He knows how you feel deep down.

God knows your fears and doubts that God can live up to his promises. He knows how difficult it can be for you to see the forest from the trees. He knows your pain. He knows your hopes and dreams.

When you hear God’s words in Isaiah, you can remind yourself that God is not distant or indifferent. God is telling you “I see you. I hear you. I am here. I care.”

When you hear God’s words in Isaiah, you have a model of honest prayer. A model where you can be honest with your thoughts and feelings. A model where you can ask God “Convince me that there is hope, and I will believe.”

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