A Season of Transition, a Season of Prayer — Please join us each day at 11:30 a.m. in offering a personal but collective prayer for our congregation. Today’s focus for prayer is: Our Men’s Shelter Ministry, serving meals, leading devotions, and providing job skills counseling to homeless men.
Scripture: Isaiah 48:1-11
Key verses: 9-10 For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, so that I may not cut you off. See, I have refined you, but not like silver; I have tested you in the furnace of adversity.
Reflection: In my coastal home of Halifax, right on the dock of the deep harbor in an old warehouse is the Nova Scotia Crystal Factory. They claim to make some of the most beautiful crystal in the world there and I have no reason to doubt them. When you come to my home we will raise a crystal glass of something to your health and gaze upon their fine craftsmanship for ourselves. The doors of this crystal factory are wide open inviting you as you pass to look inside and see how the crystal is made in the small workshop. Making crystal by hand and breath requires raw material, tremendous skill and a lot of heat. One furnace works at 2,588 degrees Fahrenheit in order to make a malleable material that can be blown and cut into a desired shape. That something so beautiful and delicate can come from something so raw and intense is a marvel.
God is angry in Isaiah but, before we write it off as another image of the angry Old Testament God, let’s remember that anger is one of the ways our loved ones show their love for us. God’s anger is real and fierce (and thank God it is contained in its intensity for our sake) but anger expressed in a loving relationship always seeks to correct not to condemn. Anger can get our attention and help us redefine and recreate. If anger was all we had in our relationship with God and each other it would be abusive. But God’s anger acts like a furnace — the prophet Isaiah suggests — a furnace that refines and prepares us for the Creator who would lovingly fashion us to his way and will, for his purpose and people. In the midst of struggle and adversity, in good times and bad we are being taught to trust the One who is at work in our lives.
Prayer: God my life is in your hands. With your fierce and tender love, create me as a vessel of your grace and an instrument of your peace. May what I am reflect who you are. Amen.
Author: Derek Macleod
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].