Psalm 146:5-10; Isaiah 35 1-10; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11
Strengthen the feeble arms, steady the tottering knees. Say to the anxious, "Be strong and fear not! See, your God comes with vengeance, with dread retribution God comes to save you" (Isaiah 35:3-4).
These are fear-provoking and immobilizing times for many who have labored over the years for a more just society and world. Their arms have indeed grown weary, and their knees totter and shake in the face of the present hour. The Bible is unequivocal in its contention that a frightened and trembling people are unable to act and faithfully stand in their hour of trial. Fear saps their strength and leaves them cowering in a corner, fleeing the harsh realities of their present situation.
Isaiah prophesied to a similarly dispirited and broken people. Judah appeared doomed and its future non-existent. The people were not only anxious about tomorrow but uncertain that they would survive the day. They had lost sight of, and faith in, the promises of God, since all that their eyes could see was desolation and ruin. The prophet challenged them to be strong and to take courage, undergirding one another as they look to the salvation of the Lord. Isaiah triumphantly asserts that God can be trusted and is coming to save you as promised!
This is the testimony of Psalm 146:5-10 as well. To the psalmist, God is creator and savior, a God of power and blessing who can be trusted in every crisis. This God brings justice to the oppressed, feeds the hungry, sets the prisoner free, restores sight to the blind, loves the righteous, takes care of the stranger, gives heart to the orphan and widow, and unseats the wicked from their thrones. This same God, who liberates the people from ancient oppressions in Egypt and makes "a way out of no way" for those in exile, has promised to come to us if we wait with patience.