By Sally Lombardo
“But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you, whom I took from the ends of the earth and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, ‘You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off’, fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.…You shall seek those who contend with you, but shall not find them, those who war with you shall be as nothing at all. For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand. It is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.’” Isaiah 41:8-13
Enhance today’s devotional by reading Isaiah 41:8—20
When I examine some of my anxious thoughts, I often fear the future, but I sometimes look back and fear the strongholds of my past. I wonder how things will work out and what my work will add up to; then, I look back and fear I left things undone, unfinished. I can become afraid of making the wrong choices. But if I dwell in the present, I don’t feel anxious. I don’t fear the moment I am in and can sense God’s presence is enough. I don’t always remember to behave like this.
I recently heard a story about seeking direction in life. The story described a newly ordained priest who went to work in Calcutta to discern his future course. After months of prayer, he was no closer to a decision and sought a visit with Mother Teresa. After explaining his dilemma, the priest asked Mother if she would pray for him. “Absolutely, I will,” she replied, “but you must now tell me what to pray.”
Surprised by her demand, the man answered, “Sister, I need direction. I am looking for clarity. Please pray God will show me the right choice.”
“No,” Mother Teresa answered plainly. “For that, I will not pray. I can only ask God for what you really need, which is faith, not clarity. God does not owe us this.”
I love her answer. If God will call us from “earth’s farthest corners” and will not cast us off no matter what we do, we must be very special, cherished, and favored. Mother Teresa was right: we need faith to believe this status and faith to walk with God. The phrases in Isaiah 41 show God’s undaunted outreach: “I will help you…I will strengthen you…I will uphold you.” He does not promise to give us a detailed map, but He gives us his right hand, the hand of power. God’s righteous hand offers holy strength and dignity, something greater than our need for clarity. It is not the kind of strength that helps us achieve every goal, but it is a strength that gives us peace, mercy, and joy. It is a loving hand that calms our fears.
When have you faced a fear and asked God for peace instead of solutions? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a small group Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
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