Isaiah 52: How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger bringing good news.
They live in darkness, separated from God and without hope. Then, off in the distance a light is shining. At first, it’s barely visible, but in time bright enough to create excitement in all who’ve longed for this darkness to end. Then, coming out of that light is a runner, silhouetted by the glow behind him. He advances toward them and the crowd gathers, wondering what’s going on. They then hear him shouting something and the broken people strain to hear his words. He’s shouting, “Good news, good news.” With the light brightening behind him the runner races into their still-darkened camp. The people are quiet as everyone gathers around the runner who shouts out “Good news” one last time. He then catches his breath and cries out at the top of his lungs: “God reigns!” At first the people are stunned, and quietly speak these words among themselves, “God reigns. God reigns.” Then, without really thinking about it, they begin saying those words in unison: “God reigns. God reigns.” The chat becomes a shout as hands and voices are raised, “GOD REIGNS, GOD REIGNS.” Their sins have separated them from God. It seems that all that’s left is darkness and hopeless death. Now, a new day is dawning, a day of salvation. God is once again stepping into their lives. “God reigns.” Thank God for messengers of Good News. Praise God, who is God, reigning in our lives.
Take Away: God reigns!
Job 38: And now, finally God answered Job.
Of all the losses Job suffered, his loss of contact with God may have been the most difficult. In Job’s life God has always been close by. In good times he’s praised the Lord and in bad times he’s cried out to God. At all times he’s felt his presence. Then, when a series of disasters that couldn’t possibly be coincidence come, God goes silent. Job cries out to God repeatedly; sometimes in pain, sometimes in fear, and even sometimes in anger but God remains distant and unresponsive. While Job’s story is out on the extreme edge of human experience, facing times when God seems to have withdrawn from our lives is not. David, in the Psalms, often complains that God is unreachable. Even Jesus on the cross says he’s been forsaken. Through the centuries Christians have talked about “the dark night of the soul” or “the winter of the soul.” These are times when God appears to leave us on our own. Why would our Heavenly Father do that? I think the answer is that he wants us to learn to seek him rather than seek the feeling we associate with his presence. Every worshipper likes it when God “feels” close. When life is hard we especially want to feel that God is near. One of the ways in which the Lord helps us grow in our relationship with him is by removing the emotional props and leaving us with nothing but our faith. There’s a big difference between “feeling” that the Lord is with us and simply “knowing” he is there. That’s the level of living he desires for us. Job’s winter of the soul is about to pass as “finally God answers.” Many thoughtful Christians have found that God puts us through times of darkness that we may learn to focus on him rather than on his blessings. Then, when the lesson is learned, “finally” God draws close to us once again. Take Away: Experiencing a “dark night of the soul” doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve forsaken the Lord and that he has rejected us. It may mean he’s helping us to live without the “training wheels” of feeling.