God made this.........above Flint MI, by Gene

It All Feels So Hopeless Sometimes

© 2004 Betty Elders / photo by Gene

Last night the weather channel predicted imminent severe weather in the Texas Hill Country due to an anomalous summer arctic cold front. I was really nervous climbing into bed.  Our house is built on the side of an elevated plateau and is prone to lightning strikes.  With my husband on the road again, I felt truly alone as the storms approached.  One of our two dogs is terrified by lightning--our large golden retriever--so as the barometric pressure fell, she climbed into bed beside me shaking and panting in fear.  I opened my Bible.  (Sometimes, instead of opening it to a specific place, I let it fall open to wherever.  No matter where I read, it always helps me.)  It fell open to Isaiah 53.  I could not imagine how those words would help...

 1 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
11 After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

Isaiah 53 is the future vision of a scorned man nailed to a cross, some 700 years before the Romans ever dreamed up crucifixion.  How Isaiah must have suffered as God revealed to him all that man would endure in order that some of us could but turn and "trust" Him in our own agony, assured of help, assured of love.  The extent of such suffering can not be adequately expressed in words, but Isaiah wrote his vision, nonetheless--words validated by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1949, as our reminder of God's supernatural ability to preserve His Truth, despite mankind's attempts to discredit it.   700 years later, Jesus Christ would be born, be despised, rejected and crucified, then rise again from death so all who turn to Him and trust should not perish, should not fear. 

Here's why:
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

Sometime in your own life things may become so difficult that you think you just cannot go on any more.  Storms can approach without warning and send us straight into fear and hopelessness.  But as I read the words of Isaiah, I see the portrait of a man, unlike ourselves, who gave it all--a man despised and hated (verse 3), a man not welcome among society--a man perceived as born illegitimately, of dubious origins (verse 2)--and one whose lack of physical beauty made it hard to even look at Him; people would not be drawn to Him for His beauty. They would come because He offered them the only real hope to be found.  They would come for help, and shelter, freedom from fear, for comfort, reassurance and peace. They would come to HIm because He said they could...as often as they needed, for as long as they needed, until this life was through.

Jesus still promises that if we but turn to Him we will be given all that we need in this life. What a gift. Yes, God made our Substitute undesirable by the world's standards, both then and now.  Just look around.  Jesus Christ is still despised and rejected by most.  People are free to practice any religion on the face of the earth, but tell someone you read the Bible and all hell breaks loose.  Persecution follows.   But no matter what suffering we face in this life, no matter what people do to us, no matter what storms rage, the suffering portrayed in Isaiah 53 is our promise, forged in blood, our guarantee against all darkness.  Darkness will come---but because of Christ's suffering (see verses 10 and 11), all who turn to Him will get relief.  Guaranteed.  Paid in advance.  No one  turned away.   Isaiah 53 is the portrait of how your own guarantee was paid for, by another--and the extent to which He went to insure that when faced with any storm in life, we have but to turn and cry out to the only One who has done it all to save us.

Not long after I finished reading this chapter, we creatures here all fell asleep.   Our big golden retriever climbed into bed beside me--I could feel her nose poking my hand as I drifted off.  She was comforted there.  It was such a simple act of trust on her part.  How I wish I could tell her what I know. 

But I have told you.

You are in my prayers.

-- Betty

Grace and her baby -- photo by betty

Questions?  Email me HERE.

Need more Encouraging Words:

"With All that is Happening, What Can I Do Now" -- June 8, 2004
A Not-so-righteous Outrage -- August 7, 2004
"From the Heart" -- January 2005