Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and those who live on it will die like gnats; but my salvation will be forever, and my deliverance will never be ended.
These words from the prophet Isaiah were spoken to a people who were coming out of exile and returning to Israel. They are in the same geographical area, Mesopotamia, where Abraham and Sarah began their faith journey. They are starting over, which shows how far backwards the Israelites have gone. When they look backwards in their history they see people like Abraham and Sarah and many others who were strong, but when they look at themselves they see they have become weak in their faith and in living out their faith. But in looking back to some of their ancestors they gain some encouragement for their future.
God tells them to also look up to the heavens and down at the earth. These are things that all human beings take for granted. We just rely on them to always be there, but God says even these things we depend on will change. Yet God assures them, “My salvation will be forever, and my deliverance will never end.” Sometimes it seems like everything is in flux in our lives and in our world, changing so fast that we can’t keep up, or adjust.
With the onset of COVID-19 and its devastation, with millions of people dying and so many terribly ill, I wonder if we have taken good health and health care for granted just as we take the solid earth beneath us, or the sun coming up in the morning. God is saying to us today, as well as to the exiles in Isaiah’s day, that we can only depend on God and look ahead to God’s faithfulness.
I am surrounded by people in our twin communities of Bryan-College Station, Texas who have the coronavirus and many have died. Businesses have been forced to close, and many who are still open are losing money because of declining business. Many people are out of work, and do not know when they can return to work. Many are becoming homeless. Schools are struggling to discover how to educate our children and youth. Everything is in flux and no one knows what tomorrow will bring. We need to hear and trust in the message of God that Isaiah brings today. God’s salvation will be forever and God’s deliverance/faithfulness will never end. We need to act on that faith that God is our deliverer.
Perhaps it would be good for us to remember how our ancestors must have felt when they left their homeland to come to a land they had never seen. They must have depended on God for their deliverance. All those who put whatever they could haul in a covered wagon and made their way to new lands from the east coast to the west coast of our nation must have trusted in God’s deliverance/faithfulness. We too can trust in God for our deliverance. God is calling us to bring God’s Grace and love and assistance to all we can so that others come to know and believe in God’s faithfulness.
- How can you be involved in helping those who need assistance?
- How can you be God’s Hands in God’s work of deliverance?
- What is God laying on your heart to do to help others know God’s faithfulness/deliverance?
Sue is NLS Spiritual Director, since 2019 and is a retired Lutheran Pastor (ELCA). Active in VdC since 1995, she has served two terms on the Board of the Texas VdC Secretariat, and also on the Texas Gulf Coast VdC Board as Spiritual Director since its start-up in 2017.