By Amanda Svejda
Lectionary reading for 4/13/2022: Psalm 70; Isaiah 50:4-9a ; Hebrews 12:1-3; John 13:21-32
Selected passage for reflection: Isaiah 50:4-9a (New Revised Standard Version)
Isaiah 50:4-9 (New Revised Standard Version)
“The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word.
Morning by morning he wakens— wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught.
The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward.
I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.
The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me. It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty? All of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up.”
As I write this, I am weary. I feel the first line of today’s passage deep in my body, heart, and mind. I have had a strangely full and scattered week that has left me bereft of the quiet space I need to be still, reflect, and make sense of my own experience. To be held and taught by God.
In the past week, I have been to the dentist for part one of a crown placement. I started a new temporary job that requires daily back-to-back Zoom meetings, and I completed a four-part interview and accompanying writing assignment. I have also been concerned for my mom, who lives 1,000 miles away and recently suffered a fall that left her with a dislocated shoulder and broken knee (she is okay). Adding to the weariness of this week are world events, like Russia invading Ukraine.
I think about how stressed I feel and in these moments, how unsavory and cutting my words and actions can be to those closest to me. I apologize, I repent, but often find the cycle repeating itself. I am weary of myself, too, I find.
Often, I find myself asking God and thinking about the same questions:
“With all the seeming chaos in my life and in the world–how can I continue to have faith and believe so that these circumstances don’t dictate my reality? How can I go back to my life mantra – to love God with all I am, love my neighbor as myself, and actively seek to establish God’s kingdom – when the world is on fire? When it seems everyday life asks for so much and holds so many distractions from the bigger picture?”
Every morning, I take at least 10 minutes to read the Bible and pray. I usually don’t find the step-by-step playbook I’m looking for. But what I do find is the welcome presence of Holy Spirit, burning in my heart. I find the water of the Word, quenching the thirst of my soul. And I’m drawn by the gentle fingers of a loving Savior, lifting my chin, to look up to the Lord. To step away from what I think informs my reality, reminding me of what is real and true, beyond what my eyes can see.
For me, this passage in Isaiah is like refreshing lemonade on a hot summer day, or a satisfying night’s rest for a weary body and soul.
I’m inspired to think about Jesus– His life, His character, His words. His unshakeable resolve to complete the work of salvation, all the way to the cross. I imagine it’s Jesus speaking these words. He is the One who has the tongue of a teacher, who sustains the weary with a word; who set His face like flint to the unimaginable insult and pain of His own crucifixion.
And He is the One who vindicates me [and all who call on Him]--and He is near.
Spend time reflecting for a few moments on areas where you may feel weary and worn out, not up to the task. Express these in prayer, honestly and openly to God. Open your mind and heart and hands, be still, waiting for God to feed your soul.
On this Holy Wednesday, reflect on the life, words, miracles, and attitude of Jesus up to this point in the Gospels. If you’re unfamiliar with the accounts, choose one of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John) and spend time witnessing with fresh eyes where Jesus sustained the weary with a word, healed the sick, raised the dead, and steadfastly set his face to the work at hand.
Thank God for this embodiment of who God is in Jesus, fully God, fully human, who experienced the same challenges and temptations, hurts and insults that we do, yet overcame.
Lord Jesus, thank You that You are the exact image of the invisible God. You show us a life filled with love and unshakeable resolve to complete the work that God called You to: the hard road of salvation that travels through death. You did it willingly. And yet even before You went to the cross, You walked the earth and graced us with more encouragement for our souls than we could have ever dreamed. Thank you for Your message and Your call that recognizes our humanity and our circumstances, yet calls us back to You, where we find rest and resolve. So we come to You, all of us who are weary and heavily burdened, and in You find rest for our souls. We bless You and love You. In Jesus Name. Amen.
About the Author
Amanda Svejda grew up in North Carolina and now lives in Evanston, Illinois with her husband Joey and her fur baby Kona. She studied journalism in college and earned her Master of Divinity degree from Northern Seminary in 2007. She believes in the power of God’s love to transform, the inherent dignity of every person (as God’s image bearer), and the call for every Christ follower to love God wholeheartedly, share the Good News, and love our neighbor as ourself in compassion, mercy, service, and justice.