Lately I’ve been mulling about in Isaiah’s description of the Suffering Servant, the “Arm of God” who is pictured as the one bringing about forgiveness of sins, restoration and return from exile into joy, prosperity, and peace.
The prophecies and promises are thrilling—and yet feel diametrically opposed to our present world’s palpable uncertainty in which I am squirming. Justice and mercy feel cold as a waning shadow when I read about the refugees braving the below-freezing weather in next door Serbia. Humility seems a pipe dream as I cringe at the pompous rhetoric by politicians and those covering their ears while screaming their opinions. Joy and peace seem only a dream as I listen to yet another terrible story of someone growing up in poverty and domestic violence.
The more I contemplate the description of the Servant…
He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him…A man of sorrows acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him
…the more my soul flickers towards the mystery of this—a mystery that is perhaps only glimpsed in moments of silence, away from the cacophony of the world stage. How can the Arm of Yahweh be so broken and unattractive?
Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
Perhaps this speaks to our human nature’s tendency to revere the strong and powerful while cynically despising the weak and unattractive.
And yet it is this Servant that I can imagine moving easily and without fanfare among those who are in physical or spiritual exile, those who are despised and forgotten, or deemed weak and useless.
Yesterday, in the weekly prayer group that is becoming the ‘glue’ of the Little Darda Church, someone shared how it used to feel like there was a heavy rock pressing down on him all the time—a burden that was hard to carry every day. Now, he feels a freedom and lightness, a joy and peace. He is moving toward forgiveness toward those who acted unbearably cruel toward him when he was young, he is resting in peace even when it appears that someone is constantly stealing his firewood.
I felt tears clutch at my throat. I have been watching this man slowly turn towards the Servant over the last months, transformation slow as a dripping faucet to fill up a sink. And yet, here it is again—the mystery of grace, the incarnate God who walks with us in suffering and hardship, who holds the hope of the future of restoration, redemption, and full joy.
“Give me your burdens, ” the Servant says, his scarred face alight with a deep love that looks into our souls. And suddenly, as we decide to let our eyes meet his jarringly steadfast gaze, he becomes the most majestic and beautiful sight of all.