First pain then strength. That’s become the motto of guest blogger Kimberly Drew as a therapist helps her daughter restore strength to her legs. Not unlike how the book of Isaiah describes the restoration of his people and of our weak and feeble hearts.
Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way…
A very expensive delivery came today. After 7 months of waiting, our daughter Ellie finally received her new therapeutic equipment. The price tag before insurance was almost $8,000 for two pieces of equipment. Pretty steep price tag if you ask me.
As we were fitting Ellie into her new prone stander, her physical therapist explained the importance of getting her knees to be supported properly. Her body is not used to bearing her own weight. Her knees give way. This equipment will hopefully strengthen and stretch her legs and prepare her body to transition to a walker. There is a lot of pain in stretching those muscles that needs to happen before then.
First pain then strength.
In Isaiah 34, the Lord talking about His judgement against the nations. It’s kind of dark stuff, filled with the pain described in in verse 4.
All the stars in the sky will be dissolved
and the heavens rolled up like a scroll;
all the starry host will fall
like withered leaves from the vine,
like shriveled figs from the fig tree.
However, Isaiah 35 is a beautiful picture of restoration titled “Joy of the Redeemed.” I get chills when I read verses 4-6.
Say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
he will come to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.”
If you have a disabled child, as I do, these verses are a balm. Jesus spent a lot of his earthly ministry healing the disabled. He restored their bodies completely. The deaf heard, the blind saw, the leper’s skin transformed right before his eyes, the paralyzed and lame walked away. Amazing. But all the time, the message of Jesus was not about physical healing. He used these miracles to show himself as the son of God and to point to the need for spiritual healing.
Apart from holy judgement, there is no redemption story.
My daughter’s feeble hands and weak knees are a reminder of the greater story of the world’s desperate need for a Savior. Our culture that desperately wants God’s grace and mercy and yet we reject his holiness. God’s judgement is fair. He is holy, and we will never be good enough.
So in comes Jesus.
A radical, kingdom of God-preaching, table-turning, passionate God-man who came to shine a light on sin. He was holiness, judgement, and he was also forgiveness. First judgement, then redemption. This redemption came with a steep price tag. Christ died to pay the price for our sin. Redemption comes at a cost. First Isaiah 34, then Isaiah 35.
First the pain of acknowledging my sin, then the strength to live for Christ.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
and those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
First pain then strength.
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