By Sally Lombardo
“Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken. Bind up the testimony; seal the teaching among my disciples.” (Isaiah 8:12-16)
In a deeply moving book called A Grace Disguised, the author (Jerry Sittser) explains his long journey of healing from a tragic loss. The book traces his struggle and wrestling with God about the accident and its aftermath. He explores a difficult path into how we reconcile a loving God with the suffering in the world. Can we trust God’s sovereignty, he asks, and will we ever understand why God allows so many painful and seemingly purposeless events? The author discovers his answer by learning to see God differently in the way of His heart. An opening quote reads:
“It is said of God that no one can behold his face and live. I always thought this meant that no one could see his splendor and live. Perhaps it means that no one can see his sorrow and live. Or perhaps his splendor is his sorrow.” (A Grace Disguised)
We feel the weight of God’s sorrow in the passage today. He warns Israel about hope and fear and tells them to prepare a plan. We, too, must prepare with often anxious hearts for natural disasters and events we cannot prevent. We can almost feel God’s sadness for a “holy stumbling stone” that can bring his people down. Ironically, God’s holy place of wisdom is exactly what makes us stumble at times. We try to find ways around his commands and precepts; for people that don’t like authority, the stumbling is even worse.
Seven hundred years after Isaiah, Jesus will ask his disciples, “Have you not read this Scriptures? ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’” (Mark 12:10). Jesus was often a stone that caused men to stumble. Following God’s way of forgiveness, humility and obedience are hard for disciples, and Jesus’ words can be inconvenient wisdom. God’s “working all things for our good” (Romans 8:28) includes uncomfortable events but can cause us to seek him. God reaches out to help us stand again when we stumble through these times.
How might I see my struggles differently today if I frame them in God’s purposes for me? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Why is trust so difficult? Unlike all the broken promises of this world, God’s redeeming promises are absolute, trustworthy, and true. The covenants of God afford us with abundant reasons to trust God with his plan for our lives. Trusting God: Redeeming Promises of the Word small group Bible study explores the six major redeeming promises of God found in his Word. Learn more about God’s commitment to his people, the nature of a covenant, and how you can find your security in being a child of God’s redeeming promises. Learn more about God’s promises today.
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