Like every child, I went through periods of rebellion and disobedience. When I was very young, I had a tendency toward stubborn insistence on my own way. Out of their love for me and desires for my health and wholeness, my parents would discipline me. But once the punishment had passed, they would always sit me on their lap. We would talk about what happened and, without fail, they would express their love for me. Then, we moved on.
In Isaiah 42:1-9, God is extending comfort to the people of Israel following the discipline of exile in Babylon. The time for punishment and correction has passed; the time for consolation has come. The text speaks of a servant of the Lord, upon whom the Spirit of the Lord will rest. He will not lead through aggression, coercion, and violence. Rather, he will gently attend to broken spirits and weary hearts. The servant will diligently and persistently pursue justice until all of Creation is set right.
But, the passage does not end there with comfort; it continues on to calling. The Lord reminds the people of God of the divine calling upon them, to be a “light to the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to free captives from prison, and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.” But this is not a mandate without provision. God will “take hold of their hand, keep them, and make them into the covenant people” God intends for them to be. Let go of what once was and embrace this new work that God wants to do in and through you.
It is a word of comfort, calling, and commission that transcends the years. We too are invited to place our hand in the hand of God and allow God to lead us into a good future in which we join God’s work in the world.
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Grace and Peace.