Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me. He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away. And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”
But I said, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God.” And now the Lord says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my strength— he says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
“I have labored in vain,” says the prophet Isaiah today, “I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity.” On the fateful days leading up to Golgotha, this is probably how Jesus’ disciples felt. Having watched Jesus grant sight to the blind, cleanse lepers, and preach good news to the poor (Lk. 7:22) Jesus’ disciples had left everything to follow him (Mt. 19:27). But now, suddenly everything was beginning to come apart. Jesus was walking straight into disaster – his death – and there was nothing they could do about it.
We’ve been there: those times when something we always held for certain – maybe our job or our beliefs, our loved ones or even our faith – seems to crumble around us. In those moments we remember with Isaiah that behind and before all our bitter disappointment stands and will forever stand God and his patient work of redemption.
Practice: Think of someone who’s suffered through a world collapsing around them and resolve to remind them in some way this week of God’s steadfast love.
Prayer: Jesus, you are faithful and do not leave me to face my suffering alone; help me to be faithful to others in the midst of their suffering in imitation of you.Please share the Good Word with your friends!