17 A thousand will flee
at the threat of one;
at the threat of five
you will all flee away,
till you are left
like a flagstaff on a mountaintop,
like a banner on a hill.”
18 Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
he rises to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!
Wait For It
We have patiently sloughed through a lot of difficult passages, and we are rewarded with a brief encouragement, a glimpse of the salvation that God is going to bring. And almost as if it was written for us, the Scripture says, “Blessed are all who wait for him!” We’ll spend a short time seeing the good things that God has planned for Israel, and for all the world, but then it is back to some difficult prophecies and warnings.
But I think there is a lesson for us, even in this. Encouragements in Isaiah are brief, and don’t come too frequently, but they are always there. They punctuate the difficult passages, and give us room to breathe, refresh and strengthen ourselves to continue. But we of course want the book to contain more encouragements and positive statements, all the time, in the clearest terms!
Believe it or not, this is not always good for us, to be constantly given positive reinforcement, because if we get too much of it, it begins to lose its effect and potency. If someone always tells you that you are doing a great job, no matter how true that may be, you have no idea if you really are doing well, and that encouragement really doesn’t mean all that much. But if you have someone who wisely withholds their praises and encouragements, and then you get one from them – man, how much more meaningful and encouraging that is, to get a compliment from someone who doesn’t say them often!
In this way, we shouldn’t be searching necessarily for frequent encouragement, but instead, waiting for meaningful encouragement. After all, few words from a wise man are far better than a thousand from a sycophant.
1. When was the last time that God encouraged you? What was the encouragement he provided for you?
2. How can we better persevere in between the encouragements that God provides, which may be too infrequent for our liking?