May 11, 2021
“Strengthen the weak hands, steady the shaking knees! Say to the cowardly: ‘Be strong; do not fear! Here is your God; vengeance is coming."
“Strengthen the weak hands, steady the shaking knees! Say to the cowardly: ‘Be strong; do not fear! Here is your God; vengeance is coming. God’s retribution is coming; He will save you.’ Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will sing for joy, for water will gush in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the parched ground will become a pool of water, and the thirsty land springs of water. In the haunt of jackals, in their lairs, there will be grass, reeds, and papyrus.” Isaiah 35:3–7
It has been said that people are like teabags. You never know what is on the inside until you put them into hot water! I have had many of these moments in my life. Moments where the Lord, by His grace, dropped me into hot water. And I wish I could report that I always steeped righteousness into those hot water pots. But I did not.
I know that the concept of the Lord willingly bringing hardship upon His faithful children seems foreign to some believers. We would rather believe He will spare us from hardship because we choose to follow Him closely. But in His wisdom, He chooses from time to time to allow us to experience difficulty. The therapeutic nature of hardship reveals to us (and to onlookers) how deep our faith really is. More often than not through hardship, God reveals the difference between our aspirational faith and our core faith. The difference between how faithful we believe we are versus how faithful we actually are.
John the Baptist had such a moment. He was in prison and facing execution. He began to doubt, or at the least needed reassuring that the One whom he had declared, “The Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world” was really worth dying for.
“When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent a message by his disciples and asked Him, ‘Are You the One who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’ Jesus replied to them, ‘Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind see, the lame walk, those with skin diseases are healed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news. And if anyone is not offended because of Me, he is blessed.’” Mathew 11:2–6
Interestingly, Jesus did not answer, “Hold on, John! I’ll dispatch a band of angels to rescue you!” He simply quoted today’s Isaiah passage, titled in my Bible “The Future Glory of Zion”. Jesus reminded John “the Baptizer” of God’s promise from His Word.
As concerned as Jesus may have been with John’s reassurance, He was also concerned with John’s followers’ testimonies! Notice how He told John’s disciples, “Go and report to John what YOU hear and see.” That is a valuable lesson! In the midst of suffering, we need to be encouraged by other faithful believers. Furthermore, we can be an encouragement in the midst of our own suffering. Remember, salvation doesn’t always mean the end of earthly suffering. Someday we will all be liberated from the bonds of earthly suffering and enter the eternal “Glory of Zion”, the New Jerusalem.