Strength for the weary

Today’s Bible readings are Isaiah 40.25-31; Psalm 103.8-13; Matthew 11.28-30.

In a time of national catastrophe many of the people of Israel were ready to give up. God, it seemed, had forsaken them. Their enemies ruled over them and Jerusalem was in ruins. It seemed that nothing would ever be any different and the people of God may as well give up. Yet the word of the prophet breaks into the gloom. God is not bounded by the transient circumstances of human, national or societal life. God, who made heaven and earth, is the eternal God who outlasts the years. Human beings faint, fall and fade but God is the source of life and strength. Those who wait or trust in God will renew their strength; their enthusiasm will return and, given the power to endure, they will yet see better days.

Jesus makes a similar and audacious promise in relation to himself: ‘Come to me all who are weary . . and I will give you rest’! Again, rest and renewal come through waiting and trusting, but also through learning and through serving. There is a paradox here. True freedom is found by following Jesus and by serving God.

Today I am thinking about suffering friends. I can think of a few who are facing extreme circumstances. Yet as I pray for them, their faithfulness continues to be inspiration to me. They testify to the truth of the prophet’s words. They demonstrate that trusting in God through times of distress and difficulty really does make a great difference.

Loving God, we pray for suffering friends. Support and sustain them in their distress and give them grace and strength to endure and overcome. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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