Confession. I haven’t really been studying the Word lately. But it has been studying me and finding me frail.
Since finding mold in our home and facing the facts that insurance won’t cover water damage done by floodwater, our family has been in triage mode. Almost all spare time has been going to remediation and repairs and our home and our hearts feel like construction zones.
When we first found mold, my motto was, “Let’s destroy as little as possible.” But, the extent of the problem must determine the intensity of the solution. Thus, within a few weeks, we had laid the infected rooms’ walls bare down the studs. Every fiber of my order-loving being wanted quick repair and restoration. Especially during the time of COVID when everything else feels utterly out of control, I longed to control the timeline of getting our home back in order. But you can’t rush remediation and restoration.
If we had, all our efforts would be wasted. Putting up brand new dry wall and covering it with a fresh, clean coat of paint would do precious little if we did not deal with underlying issues and get rid of all the mold.
All the while, the Lord has been working the gospel deeper into my grumpy heart and showing me his character. My sin is far more insidious and infectious than mold. As much as I naturally want to slap a new coat of paint over it and buy some cute accents to spruce up my soul, God loves me far too much to let me do so.
He expertly, methodically, thoroughly exposes my sin and lays me as bare are our walls. He won’t rush me to restoration. He will apply the gospel to my soul and my life, letting it sink in for days, weeks, even years. For he knows his stuff. He wisely detects the deeply hidden, deeply diseased areas of my heart which need exposure to the light of his presence and the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit to be fully restored. And he takes his time like a master works man who has no other time table than his own. He will not rush the process that is intended to prepare me for an eternity with him; that would be cheating himself and me in the long run.
In the middle of the restoration process for our home (and apparently the matching process that is going on in my heart), I feel frail, exhausted, and exasperated.
Today, through some Scriptures in the Isaiah 40’s, the Spirit reminded me of some firm truths that comfort frail frames. In these caboose chapters of the long prophetic train that is Isaiah, God’s people are in exile. They are frail, to say the least. And yet into their frailty, God speaks firm hope. Isaiah 40 begins with “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.”
Our Frailty, His Firmness
In our frailty, his words remain firm. Contrary to popular belief, when we find ourselves exposed to the core, we don’t need to be strengthened with lies about our own strength, invincibility, or permanence. Rather, we need to be reminded that we, by God’s own might and mercy, are intertwined with heart of the One who is.
A voice says, “Cry!” And I said, “What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers and the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isaiah 40:6-8).
If I were given an assignment to comfort an exhausted, frail people, I don’t think I would naturally start with the aforementioned phrases. At first listen, they certainly don’t sound encouraging or strengthening. But the source of the Christian’s strength is not found in self, but in the strength of the character and nature of our God. Thus, the most strengthening God can do to comfort his people is to expose their frailty that they might more lean into his firmness. Thus, Isaiah is told to proclaim, “Behold your God!” (Isaiah 40:9) pointing them away from their obvious frailty to his firmness and faithfulness.
Our Frailty, His Fragile Care
In our frailty, he won’t fracture us. He treats the frail with the same fragile care one might employ if one found an injured baby bird. Though his power is gigantic, his demeanor is gentle.
Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom and gently lead those that are with young (Isaiah 40:10-11).
Later, in Isaiah 42, God promises, “A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench” (Isaiah 42:3). He loves us with a love fierce enough to expose our frailty but a faithfulness and gentleness ready to support and strengthen us.
Perhaps you find yourself as exposed and bare as our walls. In your frailty, may you find the firmness only to be found in the faithful God!