Isaiah 51:1-16 | “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the LORD: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him, that I might bless him and multiply him. For the LORD comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song. “Give attention to me, my people, and give ear to me, my nation; for a law will go out from me, and I will set my justice for a light to the peoples. My righteousness draws near, my salvation has gone out, and my arms will judge the peoples; the coastlands hope for me, and for my arm they wait. Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die in like manner; but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed. “Listen to me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear not the reproach of man, nor be dismayed at their revilings. For the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool, but my righteousness will be forever, and my salvation to all generations.” Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD; awake, as in days of old, the generations of long ago. Was it not you who cut Rahab in pieces, who pierced the dragon? Was it not you who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep, who made the depths of the sea a way for the redeemed to pass over? And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. “I, I am he who comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, of the son of man who is made like grass, and have forgotten the LORD, your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, and you fear continually all the day because of the wrath of the oppressor, when he sets himself to destroy? And where is the wrath of the oppressor? He who is bowed down shall speedily be released; he shall not die and go down to the pit, neither shall his bread be lacking. I am the LORD your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the LORD of hosts is his name. And I have put my words in your mouth and covered you in the shadow of my hand, establishing the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth, and saying to Zion, ‘You are my people.’ ”
Born at 34 weeks, he was 3 pounds of miracle. Tubes and wires extended from his diminutive body to monitor his steady progress. His vision was restricted by a soft gauze eye mask to protect his eyes from the bilirubin light. He often became frustrated with all the equipment restricting his movement. But when his dad reached through the small opening in the incubator to gently cup his son’s tiny head in his large hand, the mighty warrior in baby form grew still and drifted off to sleep.
Scripture tells us, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps” and “his intentions can never be shaken” (Proverbs 16:9; Psalm 33:11). But in a world where options seem to extend infinitely, we become convinced of our own infallibility. Constructing and deconstructing, we smooth out the roads of our lives as best as possible, and every turn in the journey leads back to our own abilities. Plans and backup plans, our ultimate goal becomes the elimination of unpredictability. We forget God’s sovereignty—until a crisis arises.
An untimely birth, an unexpected death, any number of changes we didn’t anticipate remind us of our frailty (Isaiah 51:6). We are not in control.
Like a premature infant—possessing what’s needed to thrive but not yet grown—we bear the image of what we will one day become. But while we wait in hope—often unseeing and confused—God reaches out to us in our deepest moments of need and cups us in His hand (Isaiah 51:12,16). Here, as we wait, we learn to rest in hope because “the Lord will work out his plans for [our lives]—for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever” (Psalm 138:8; see also Isaiah 51:7-8,11). —Regina Franklin
MORE: Read Romans 8:10-28 and consider how we can experience a God-given, practical hope for what we can’t yet see.
NEXT: When did an event in your life seem premature? In what ways did God demonstrate His sustaining hope to you?