Isaiah 48:17-18 This is what the Lord says–
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God,
who teaches you what is best for you,
who directs you in the way you should go.
If only you had paid attention to my commands,
your peace would have been like a river,
your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
This is an interesting section. This is obviously spoken to those in Babylonian captivity, and it’s almost an “I told you so” moment. The Jews were obviously not in a good situation, and God is here reminding them that they got themselves into the mess they were in by ignoring Him and what He had told them. God does have to remind us of this sort of thing from time to time, because otherwise we are very prone to blame Him for things He never desired for us. God knows the future, because all of time is now for Him, so nothing we do surprises Him, but at the same time He has planned out what is best for us, and too often we stubbornly refuse to follow it. Human language ties in knots trying to express this, since we are in the flow of time and God is outside of it, yet operating in and through it. It is remarkable how much trouble we have believing what God spoke through Jeremiah, at around the same point in history. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) If we really believed that, we would be fully obedient to Him! However, we tend to run around doing our own thing, and then when that thing turns out to not be so nice, we blame God! We don’t have the mental capacity to really grasp the whole time/eternity business, but God has given us the ability to know Him, trust Him, and obey Him, if we will accept it.
This is in a way an awkward time to be thinking about this, since my wife is in a medical mess that we don’t see how she invited. We can do all sorts of “what if” speculation in terms of prior health maintenance, but that doesn’t show us much at all. The question becomes how to hear and obey God in terms of getting out of this mess. There is more we can’t see than what we can, so we are having to grow in faith and trust. We do have Jesus’ words that we will have trouble in this life, but He has provided peace for us. (John 16:33) We also have Paul’s assurance that “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17) I’m reminded of the image of a Persian rug being made, that from the back looks like a jumbled mass of knots without rhyme or reason, but from the front is a beautiful tapestry. We don’t enjoy all the knots, so we have to trust that the Master Artist is producing something gorgeous on the other side.
Father, this isn’t very satisfying to my human emotions. It has been four weeks today since Cathy entered the hospital, and it’s wearing on both of us. May it wear off the rough spots, to polish us as gems in Your hands! Thank You for the rehab she was able to do yesterday, but she seems to have had another all-too-eventful night. I find it difficult to stay focused on anything, with my mind running in several directions at once. Help us both release each thing to You, allowing You to show us the next step to take and taking it, so that we may move forward into all that You have planned for us, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!