A Steady Hand
Come before the Eternal One, “at the still point of the turning world” (T.S. Eliot). Quietly worship him now.
Read Isaiah 41:1-20
 “Be silent before me, you islands! Let the nations renew their strength! Let them come forward and speak; let us meet together at the place of judgment.  “Who has stirred up one from the east, calling him in righteousness to his service? He hands nations over to him and subdues kings before him. He turns them to dust with his sword, to windblown chaff with his bow.  He pursues them and moves on unscathed, by a path his feet have not traveled before.  Who has done this and carried it through, calling forth the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD-with the first of them and with the last-I am he.”  The islands have seen it and fear; the ends of the earth tremble. They approach and come forward;  they help each other and say to their companions, “Be strong!”  The metalworker encourages the goldsmith, and the one who smooths with the hammer spurs on the one who strikes the anvil. One says of the welding, “It is good.” The other nails down the idol so it will not topple.  “But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend,  I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you.  So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  “All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish.  Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all.  For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.  Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob, little Israel, do not fear, for I myself will help you,” declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.  “See, I will make you into a threshing sledge, new and sharp, with many teeth. You will thresh the mountains and crush them, and reduce the hills to chaff.  You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up, and a gale will blow them away. But you will rejoice in the LORD and glory in the Holy One of Israel.  “The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the LORD will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.  I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.  I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set junipers in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together,  so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the LORD has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it. Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHow is God offering his people comfort and assurance here?
The invasion of Iraq, the Arab Spring, the global financial crisis…. It is easy to feel as though unpredictable and often chaotic forces are shaking the world. Sometimes the outcomes are positive; at other times they are bewildering. Here, a new superpower has emerged. Persia is threatening even mighty Babylon where God’s people are in exile. King Cyrus strides across the globe, his feet scarcely touching the ground, conquering all (3). Israel’s captors are vindictive (11-13) and God’s people feel helpless (14). But there are two messages of encouragement. First, God himself is behind these momentous world events (1-4). Second, the Holy One of Israel sees “worm Jacob” as the offspring of his friend (8), even as his close relative whom he will redeem (14), and as his chosen servant (9). Refreshing rain, and new growth, will come (17-20). We can say that, God’s hand is at work and he works everything together for the good of those who love him (cf. Rom. 8:28).
Psalm 46 is a faith response to political turmoil. You may find it helpful to use it as a prayer now.
Lord God, I know I can’t always understand Your ways, but I trust Your loving heart and good will.
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