Friday, May 04, 2007

Waiting for God's Mercy

"For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you," says the LORD your Redeemer" (Isa 54:7-8)

God is a holy God. The earlier chapters of the Book of Isaiah present the awesome holiness of God (chapter 6). Since God is a God of wrath and justice he punishes sin and wickedness. God sometimes may use ungodly people to punish his own people who are disobedient. That was the role of Assyria, Israel's political enemy who brought the Northern Kingdom of Israel to destruction. God described Assyria as the rod of His anger (Isa 10:5).
That's only one side of God. The other side is that of a merciful God. Years later, after he inflicted punishment upon his people at the hands of the pagans, he raised up another pagan emperor to show kindness to them. That is Cyrus the Persian Emperor whom God describes as His anointed (Isa 45:1). Hitherto only specially chosen leaders of Israel were called "anointed". But now here is a pagan king who does not know God is called his anointed, because he is going to be instrumental in showing God's mercy to his people.
Isaiah 54:7-8 portrays this picture of God's punishment and kindness in a graphic way. His mercy has overtaken his wrath. He has abandoned them but only for a while.
Though this verses are the story of a nation's abandonment and their reinstating, it has a personal dimension as well as the story of this young man tells. Probably many of us may be able to relate to this story as well.
He had come to the seminary from a not so well-to-do family. In the seminary he goes through a nervous breakdown. All his plans to complete studies, get married and then get ordained into ministry are foiled. To add to the misery the seminary advises him to take a break. An year goes by and then he joins the seminary again to find that he had to get regular help of a psychiatrist and go on his studies on a slower pace. He had to see his class graduate without him. His juniors also passed before him. Finally, his day came and he graduated. However, he was told that, knowing that he has a history of psychological illness, his church is not really willing to trust him with a church. Long internship begins; finding a marriage partner for a person who carries the stigma of mental illness was difficult in his culture.
However, he gets married much later in life than his friends. It was a long wait. The church finally is convinced that he is fully healed. Now, in a few weeks time he will be ordained into the ministry of his denomination. He decided to print Isaiah 54:7-8 on the top of the invitation card: " For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back." He has crossed the lines over to the compassion field. What God has done in his life is certainly an encouragement for all those who are waiting on the other side of our existence under God's wrath or negligence (whatever you would like to call it) to cross over. The waiting may be long, but it will certainly not be futile.

Life and Light

'For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light' Psalm 36:9.   When David sang to God, 'For with you ...