Tuesday 07 February 2012

Bible Book:

and for brightness, but we walk in gloom." (v. 9)

Isaiah 59:1-15 Tuesday 7 February 2012


This must be one of the darkest and depressing passages ofScripture. It is a bleak exploration of the human condition,gaining momentum from God's displeasure in the previous chapter.God is confronting the Israelite people with the reality of theirsinfulness, their lack of compassion and their gracelessliving. 

This is bleak in itself, but the troubling thing about this passageis that God is not just shining on the Israelites' faithlessnessand hypocrisy. This passage also holds up a mirror to us, and showsus the reality of who we are. And that is not a nice picture tolook at.

Isaiah says that "we wait for light, and lo! there is darkness; andfor brightness, but we walk in gloom".

What if one of the tasks of a Christian disciple is not to escapethe darkness, but instead to recognise that the very gift of graceis to learn to accept the deep shadows, and to still love God andself. In The Wounded Healer Henri Nouwen wrote, "When we become awarethat we do not have to escape our pains, but that we can mobilisethem into a common search for life, those very pains aretransformed from expressions of despair into signs ofhope." 

All of us have pains or shadows, which we carry around with us. Inthis passage, God is saying to the people that God sees them, andknows them - God knows your failures, fragility, lack of faith,embarrassments, mistakes and frustrations. God also knows thebigger, corporate sins of injustice and false worship. God looks atthis and is displeased. Truth seems to be hidden amongst theshadows where there is no light at all. 

This is not the end of the story. It is not even the end of thechapter. Even when there appears to be no hope, and the realisationis that humanity is broken and fragile and failing, there remainsthe hope that at some point (any point, somewhere), there will be aglimpse of Godʹs grace. But to discover grace, we first mustrecognise the darkness. 

To Ponder

Are you living in the reality of light ordarkness today?

Where in your life have you experienced the truthof Henri Nouwen's quote?

The passage ends with the statement that "truthis lacking" (v. 15). Where do you find truth?

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