13 For I, the Lord your God,
hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, ‘Do not fear,
I will help you.’
14 Do not fear, you worm Jacob,
you insect* Israel!
I will help you, says the Lord;
your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
15 Now, I will make of you a threshing-sledge,
sharp, new, and having teeth;
you shall thresh the mountains and crush them,
and you shall make the hills like chaff.
16 You shall winnow them and the wind shall carry them away,
and the tempest shall scatter them.
Then you shall rejoice in the Lord;
in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory.
17 When the poor and needy seek water,
and there is none,
and their tongue is parched with thirst,
I the Lord will answer them,
I the God of Israel will not forsake them.
18 I will open rivers on the bare heights,*
and fountains in the midst of the valleys;
I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
and the dry land springs of water.
19 I will put in the wilderness the cedar,
the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive;
I will set in the desert the cypress,
the plane and the pine together,
20 so that all may see and know,
all may consider and understand,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
the Holy One of Israel has created it. -- Isaiah 41:13-20
Christmas is getting closer. Each day we check off another day on our calendar whether it be just an ordinary appointment calendar or a fancy Advent calendar. We still have about two weeks to go, and, in many places, the pressure is on to get everything done and to be ready for Christmas Eve.
Isaiah brought a message of hope and encouragement, although God referred to Jacob and Israel as a worm or an insect which denoted great scorn. Still, God offered to help them to become true children of God in a land that was fertile and beautiful. Once again God is speaking of making life better for those who were less prosperous and in need. God promised to remain with them, and to create a new Eden for them to live in rather than their marginalized existence in a barren land.
God promised to not only create this for them but to hold their right hand like a watchful parent would do for a small child. God accompanied the image with a further promise, "I will help you."
Those are powerful words. Anybody who has been in a tough situation usually has trouble asking for help when needed. We're conditioned to stand on our own two feet, never admit defeat, never ask for help lest it be taken as a sign of weakness. We have obligations to our immediate family, but usually beyond that we are satisfied to stick a few dollars in a kettle or write a check to a worthy charity. We may even volunteer at food banks or Habitat for Humanity or help a stranger in trouble. those become our gifts not just to them but to God. We seldom think of asking for or accepting help from another could be not just a gift to us but to God and to the one offering help. It's an honor to be asked, an even greater to accept help.
We are taught that God is as close as our next breath and that whatever we ask in Jesus' name we will receive. That's a hard thing to accept, knowing so many who have prayed so hard for others in dire straits, calling on Jesus to help and cure them, and yet the cure was never forthcoming. Perhaps had we prayed for healing for our loved one or friend, we might have seen what we had hoped to see, namely one who is not cured but is at peace with God and themselves, trusting God's benevolence as they continue their struggle and accepting assistance with grace and humility.
Four of the most comforting words in the world are "I will help you." We don't have to struggle alone; we have someone to sit with us, listen to us, pray with us, and help in any way they can. When we have someone like that in our lives, it's easier to believe God's promises that God also will help us. That thought is an epiphany in the midst of Advent.
I need to think about those four words and how I can use them every day in a constructive way that helps someone else. Only then do I feel I am worthy of the help God offers me. Maybe it's simplistic, maybe it's bad theology, maybe it's just not being used to something like grace that's offered to us with no strings attached but which we feel we still have to earn. Like life, it's a question, a riddle, a conundrum, and a pathway. It's comforting to know that each small step I take in trust that God will keep God's promises, the easier it will be to trust
I could use a new infusion of trust. I need to believe that God is giving me the four little words that I need to hear, "I will help you.