Isaiah 55, 12-13
Something to read
For you shall go out in joy,
and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall burst into song,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial,
for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
New Revised Standard Version
To read the King James Version, click here
Something to think about
What does it mean to go out in joy, and be led forth in peace? There are times in life where I just don’t feel like being joyful. There are certainly times in life when I don’t feel particularly peaceful. How am I expected to live into this when things are stressful, hard work, traumatic or even just plain confusing?
There is a man I know who if you ask him 'how are you?', he responds quickly 'rejoicing!' That is not only unhelpful to me finding out how he is, but it is also simply annoying. It’s not annoying on the basis that his response is in itself irritating, it’s annoying because I can’t help but ask myself the question 'why can’t I be like that?' Truthfully, we all can if we really want to!
Sometimes life isn’t all that easy, and that’s a reality we all understand to varying degrees. But what if we decided that we weren’t going to give into our circumstances? What if we decided that rather than allowing our circumstances to get the better of us, we seek God, and we call upon His name instead?
This passage comes at the end of a chapter where we are invited to seek God. It is through seeking God and calling on His name that we are able to go out in joy and be led forth in peace. It is in the presence of God, and the knowledge of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, that we are able to rejoice in the hard times in life.
It is through knowing that God is there, even when God doesn’t feel all that near, and it is through remembering that he loved us enough to die for us, that we are able to be joyful and full of peace in all circumstances. To be able to say, 'I’m rejoicing and at peace' even when times are tough.
Something to do
Friends, if you are met today by something that upsets you, gets under your skin, or even if you are going through a deeply difficult time, seek out God, who is there - pray. But try rejoicing as you go through the dark place in life, for Jesus loved us enough to die for us. Even though we can’t always feel his presence, he is still there, and he cares deeply.
Something to pray
Father God, thank you that you are always with us even when times are tough. I praise you and I rejoice in you for you love me deeply. Even though I experience tough and confusing times in my life, I exalt your name because you have given me the ultimate reason to praise you. You died and rose again so I may be forgiven. Amen.
Today's contributor is Joshua Norris, a URC minister who trained at Westminster College, Cambridge.