“I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron”.
Isa 45:2 NIV
Sometimes an unwanted and uncomfortable experience can do us a world of good. A family feud can end in everyone understanding each other a lot better, and communicating more carefully.
The exile was a low point for the Israelites. It lasted from 586 B.C. to 538B.C. (46 years). But during this humiliating time they learnt something they hadn’t twigged onto back in Jerusalem. God was bigger than the country of Israel. His influence extended far beyond the boundaries of the little land they called home. They learnt that the world was a bigger world than they had known before. They saw God’s grace in action towards them as a people. And Isaiah the prophet led them to reflect on the nature of God – he was their creator and the creator of this bigger, wider world, of the Babylonians, the Persians and all the rest. And they, small and weak as a military power that they were, nevertheless were recipients of God’s bounty, love and guidance. In later centuries they were to remember this time, they devoted themselves more thoroughly to worship, and looked to their God for a bigger salvation still.
You too can reflect on God when some setback arrives. You are more likely to learn and to listen in adversity, just as Paul learnt about the sufficiency of God’s grace and about God’s strength being made perfect in weakness when he had his thorn in the flesh (2 Cor 12:1 – 10). It requires an effort and maturity to grow in discipleship during pain, failure, and hardship. But few people learn as deeply at any other time.
Lord, in the depths lead me closer to yourself.