Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was only one man, and I blessed him and made him many.Isaiah 51:1-2
Chapters 51 and 52 give specific steps which believers can take when they feel discouraged and forsaken of God. This marvelous section is gathered around the phrase,
Listen to me which is repeated several times. These chapters give great insight into God's program for the discouraged.
Notice he says that if you are discouraged, look back and see from where you have come! Israel was to look back to Abraham, back to the time before he left Ur of the Chaldees. He had nothing. He was but a rock in a hard place! God called him and gave him everything. Look at Sarah. She was 90 years old before she underwent the labor of childbearing. Yet God multiplied her offspring to become the nation of Israel.
When you are discouraged, look back. You may not be what you want to be, or even what you ought to be, but thank God you are not what you were! Remember Paul's words to the Corinthian believers,
. . . neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God, (1 Corinthians 6:9b-10 RSV). But the apostle continues,
And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God, (1 Corinthians 6:11 RSV). Look back. Has God changed you? Has he altered your inner life and changed your heart?
Then also look ahead, God says,
My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm. (Isaiah 51:5). Look ahead! A new day is coming! God is at work. We are not headed for darkness and despair, we are headed for peace and light and glory; for power and ministry such as we could never dream. In Second Corinthians 4 the apostle says,
This light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us an exceeding weight of glory, (2 Corinthians 4:17 RSV). That is what lies ahead. We must go through darkness here for a while, but it will not last forever. Once in a meeting where people were sharing their favorite Bible verses, I heard a man say,
My favorite are those verses that begin, That is what God is saying. It will not last forever. We are headed for light, for peace, and for glory.
And it came to pass. . . When I face discouragement, I say to myself,
It didn't come to stay, it came to pass.
Thank you, Father, you who know me so well, that you can encourage me in the midst of my distress. I am not forsaken, I am not neglected. You have inscribed me in the palms of your hands, and you will not forget your promises to me.
God's plans for His people are to give us a future and a hope, and He will sovereignly complete those plans. Are we confidently trusting Him to fulfill His certain promises?