And those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
The day is coming when God will no longer need the ministry of pain. But that day cannot come until all the causes of pain have been removed. Christ came not to cleanse the leper’s scab, nor to make every lame man walk, nor to call the dead back to life. He would not have skipped his own hours of weeping. He came to deliver us from pain by quenching the bitter sources from which its streams issued. He came to redeem the world from that curse, of which pain is only one consequence. He came to vanquish the wrong and to cancel the long inheritance of evil which lies behind all pain.
Isaiah 11:1 says,
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
Salvation comes to us in smallness, weakness, and hiddenness.
That gives me hope. I keep expecting big and loud events to convince me and others of God’s saving power. But that’s only what the world offers on cable news and social media. Our temptation is to be distracted by them and made blind to the “shoot that shall sprout from the stump.”
When I don’t see the small signs of God’s presence–the smile of a baby, the carefree play of children, the encouraging hug of a friend–I will always remain tempted to despair.
The baby of Bethlehem, the carpenter of Nazareth, the naked man on the cross asks for my full attention. The work of salvation takes place in the midst of a world that continue to shout, scream, and overwhelm us with its claims and promises. But the promise is hiding in the shoot that sprouts from the stump, a shoot that hardly anyone notices.
Jesus said in John 16:33,
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
Jesus was right. We have all dealt with trouble in different sizes and sources in work, family, church, and body. No one is immune. This is the absence of peace.
The Bible talks about three kinds of peace:
- Peace with others. Romans 12:18. It’s EXTERNAL and necessary for relationships.
- Peace with yourself. Colossians 3:15. It’s INTERNAL and this is our state of mind and the part that probably gives us most trouble.
- Peace with God. Romans 5:1. This is the ETERNAL peace, the most important, and comes from knowing God and being in right relationship with Him.
When you’re at peace with God you’ll be at peace with yourself and when you’re at peace with yourself you’ll be at peace with others.
That’s the direction it flows. So if you’re having “trouble,” start with God and let Him bring the peace that passes all human understanding.
So this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation;
the one who relies on it
will never be stricken with panic.”
Identity is so important. What are you first and foremost? Is it defined by a role or a relationship? I think our identity (whether we can admit to it or not) is found in where we place our ultimate security.
How can you identify where you put your security? The answer lies in knowing what you fear. A job loss, death of a family member, loss of independence? Each of those can chip away at your “God security” when it is perceived to be vulnerable. Begin to place your hopes and dreams in Christ by orienting your life more towards your relationship with Him. Let Him be your all in all.
Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
- The Scriptures are entirely applicable to today. “The past was written to teach us….”
- The Scriptures are centered in Christ. Paul’s ability to quote Psalm 69 and apply it to Christ reminds us that basically all of Scripture is ultimately about Jesus. See Luke 24:27.
- If used properly, the Scriptures will increase “hope” in us. This happens through endurance (hard work and discipline) and encouragement (incredible and precious promises).