Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear.” (Isa. 35:3–4)
Occasionally, I’ve been able to anticipate what’s coming down the track, knowing that the outcome is guaranteed to leave a mark. During blocking and tackling drills as a freshman going out for the football team, my scrawny 125-pound frame was inevitably going to be pummeled by another middle-schooler, Duane Schmitt—a bruiser who weighed at least one hundred pounds more than I did. He crushed me every single time. Other times, the I-can’t-escape-it pummeling was not physical, but verbal. Regardless of the means by which the unavoidable thrashing was going to be received, the physical manifestations were always the same: dry throat, rubbery knees, elevated heart rate, raised blood pressure, and queasiness.
In Isaiah, the certainty of pronounced judgment had been hurtling toward the community the prophet was a part of. A whipping was coming. Unstoppable. Inevitable. A juggernaut. The anticipation colored their lives with dark apprehension. The indicators of what was coming were the same then as they are now: quivering hearts, despair, shrinking hope, weak hands, and knees that turn to jelly.
But wait! A megaphone is raised and the despondent heard a message that calmed their quivering hearts: “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come . . . to save you.” Likewise, the person whose relationship with God has been made safe and sound need not fear judgment: “Be strong, do not fear.”
Stand strong, even if looming judgment has made you a quivering mess.
Ed Rotz works with PastorServe, a coaching network to strengthen pastors. He served The Wesleyan Church for forty-five years as a pastor and district superintendent.
© 2020 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.