God’s compassion for his suffering people: Isaiah 49 (16 June 2020)

Bible Society's Daily Reflections follow the M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, designed for those who want to read the whole Bible in one year. Each reflection focuses on one of its four daily chapters. Darllenwch rhain yn Gymraeg.

Pray

Pray

Lord, prepare me to receive your word. Clear my mind and warm my heart. Assure me of your loving purposes for me, and speak into my life today.

Reflect

Daily reflection: Isaiah 49

In Isaiah 49, God’s compassion for his suffering people is so total and overflowing that there is no hint of further judgement. It is a chapter about a complete reversal of fortunes. The nation has hit rock bottom – desolate, devastated and swallowed up (verse 19) – but God promises that the future will be full of hope, beyond imagination.

In their despair, the people can only see that they are forsaken and forgotten by God – yet he says that they are always visible to him, inscribed on the palms of his hands (verses 14–16). They feel themselves to be bereaved and barren, but in God’s longer vision, their land is full of descendants (verse 21). People who are covered in the darkness of great suffering cannot see any good, but God gently lifts up their eyes (verse 18) and shows them the possibility of a way through and better days to come.

It is interesting that the prophet speaks of ‘the children born in the time of your bereavement’ (verse 20). We might trust that fruitfulness can return after a period of deep suffering, but this verse suggests that, unnoticed by us and without any striving on our part, God can be working to bring hope to birth even in the middle of desperate times. Later we see the fruit and, like the people of Israel, we wonder where the new birth could have come from (verse 21).

The prophet encourages us to place our complete trust in a God who is so completely compassionate towards us. Whether we are suffering as a nation or as individuals, he promises us a future hope.

Pray

Pray

Thank you, Lord, for your compassion in our troubles – deeper than the love of a mother for her helpless newborn baby. Comfort those who grieve, and help us to trust that you are always with us and always working for good.

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