You have likely wondered on occasion whether or not God is actually for you. Most of the time when this occurs there are some forces in play: guilt over some failure, fear of being misinformed about God’s goodness, unfavorable circumstances which show little promise of improving, or perhaps a memory of a painful loss which causes you to wonder why God did not prevent it. We rarely consider that there are actually quite a number of things which can serve to weaken our confidence in God’s commitment to us. Faith is never portrayed in Scripture as being easy. It is however, revealed to be good…and necessary.
“Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your offspring will possess the nations and will populate the desolate cities.” – Isaiah 54:2-3
Maybe if we were perfect people the above verses from Isaiah would be a little easier to receive. Perhaps if we weren’t subject to doubt, guilt and discouragement we could hear the voice of the Lord telling us to look ahead with great expectations like He does in those words. Isaiah, speaking on behalf of God, was telling the people to get ready to move ahead, prepare for growth and enlargement, and to experience abundance in unanticipated measure. I like the little phrase “do not hold back” as God wanted the people to do some things which signaled that they believed Him to be faithful to bless them. One of us might say, ‘Yeah, but those folks were special and probably deserved that kind of favor from God.’
…Except that the promise was to people who would endure the chastising, punishing hand of God for seventy years due to their rebellion against Him.
Israel was populated with rebels who had dramatically failed God and violated their end of the covenant. God speaks through Isaiah in a series of prophecies about impending judgment. He tells them that they are in big trouble and it really did come to pass. But the latter portion of Isaiah’s prophecy contains words of reiterated promise, deep comfort and hopeful expectation. Look at what else God says in this chapter:
“You will forget the shame…and the reproach (54:4)…For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you (54:7)…In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you (54:8)…I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, and will not rebuke you. For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you (54:9-10).”
God gushes a promise of restoring compassion on people who had to go through a time of chastising and discipline for their failure. His interaction with them would change for a bit…but His love for them was as steadfast as ever. God knew that His discipline would have its end and that His people would repent of their idolatry. God promised that on the back end of an unpleasant season that His elect would know a greater advancement, enlargement, fulfillment and procurement of blessing.
God was for them. He wanted them to know that. He wants you to know it also.
The enemy accuses your God to you, and he wants you to deeply doubt Him. He wants you to go on analyzing all that is wrong in your life. He will encourage you to rehearse the losses and hurts until you cannot remember the blessings and joys. God comes in to rescue your heart and mind and dares you to believe that things will be changing. Can His goodness be so small that it misses you? Are His offers of joy, peace, hope, love and victory empty? Can God lie? No, friend, there is mystery in play but the outcome is settled. You are His via Jesus Christ, and He will be nothing less than good to you. He wants you to prepare your heart for that. Enlarge the tent of your heart by faith and make room for upcoming blessing. I believe that He intends to dismiss our doubt and destroy our discouragement. Clouds are seasonal but light is forever. Wait for Him.
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