Text: Isaiah 48:1-22, Isaiah 49:1-26, Colossians 1:13-14, Hebrews 4:12
Recently, I have felt a loneliness and isolation that I’ve never quite known before. It’s not that I’m alone. I’m not. As a matter of fact, I’m often surrounded by people. And yet, in a way that can only be described as wandering in a desert, I do feel alone. Have you ever felt that way? Like you were wandering aimlessly, directionless, wondering if you would make it back home?
I imagine that’s how the Jews felt in the Babylonian exile: defeated, alone, fearful, maybe even abandoned. Their faith was lacking (see Isaiah 48:1), but the truth was they were not alone. As Isaiah prophesied, God desired to get their attention.
“Listen to this, house of Jacob—those who are called by the name Israel…” (v.1).
“Listen to Me, Jacob, and Israel, the one called by Me…” (v.12).
“All of you, assemble and listen!” (v.14).
“Approach Me and listen to this…” (v.16).
“This is what the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says…” (v.17).
These aren’t merely hopeful suggestions from God. He was commanding their attention—not just to rebuke them, but to comfort them in their exile. Sometimes God uses these moments of loneliness and isolation to eliminate distraction so we might turn to Him.
Isn’t this like our God? We fail to listen, we lack faith, but He continually pursues us. God reminds those who feel fearful, defeated, and alone that He is the faithful one—He is a covenant-keeping God. All of His promises are “yes” in Christ, and ultimately found in the gospel (2 Corinthians 1:20).
So, what does this mean for us?
In our despair, the Lord reminds us that He has not forgotten us. Even if a mother may forget her nursing child, the Lord will never forget us—He will restore (Isaiah 49:15,18). He comes to meet us in our despair. And just as Jesus healed and comforted those He saw in distress, He has compassion on us today. Christ is the ultimate servant, bringing salvation to all who turn to Him.
And so we lift up our tired hands and strengthen our weakened knees, for we know the truth (Hebrews 12:12): God is near. He comforts us by the presence of His Spirit and in the promises of His Word.
For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart.
- Hebrews 4:12
This is good news! May this knowledge lead us all to sing for joy, for our God “has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves. We have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, in Him” (Isaiah 49:13; Colossians 1:13-14). There is no greater comfort than this.
No matter how alone we may feel, the truth is that is God is near and is never callous toward our pain. His desire is to comfort, encourage, and heal our hearts. Today and every day, He offers us the perfect, unending peace that can only be found in Him.
Trillia Newbell is the author of Enjoy: Finding the Freedom to Delight Daily in God’s Good Gifts, Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves, and United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity. Trillia is married to her best friend, Thern. Together, they reside with their two children near Nashville, Tennessee. You can find her find her on Twitter at @trillianewbell.