Posted By Nan

Isaiah 48

If you look for the reference to Joy in this chapter, you won’t find it until verse 20. It is the Joy of being redeemed by God. In this case, freed from Babylonian exile.

The first 19 verses are the precursor to God’s redemption.

They are a warning to ascribe the work of redemption to the actual redeemer.

So often in life we forget to thank God for all the good things. We thank our own brilliance at managing our time, we thank the money we used to pay for those things we needed, we thank our contacts who led to something happening. We thank coincidence, karma, you name it. We thank anything but God.

The first verses of this Psalm are directed at God’s people, in their original context, the people of Israel.

God challenges them, just as He challenges us now. We are His and we say we pray to God. 

But do we mean it?

Do we live like we mean it?

We claim we are God’s people, the followers of Jesus, but do we actually live that way?

God told the people of Israel that He had told them in advance what would happen so they wouldn’t be able to say it was their god-idol that did this.

What are our god-idols that we attribute with giving us the things we need? With performing the miracles in our lives?

God told the Israelites their history was to be fickle and ignore God. 

We are the same.

God has always loved us and shows great restraint in not punishing us.

How have we been in 2020?

How have we included God in our lives this year?

Have we chosen to listen to God and those He has sent as messengers? Or have we listened to ignorant social media bloggers and ignorant, uncaring politicians instead?

Have our prayers been for those afflicted by the events of this year? 

Or prayers to god-idols?

Living in the state of Queensland in Australia, my 2020 started with bushfires around Australia. Terrible fires that left few communities untouched. 

My prayers for the first part of the year were for the people impacted by the fires and those fighting them. I prayed for the natural environment, for the multitudes of animals killed. And I meant it.

Then there were floods in some areas. These were not without impact on local communities. I prayed for them too. And I meant it.

Then came a pandemic. I prayed so much for the people affected, the people making decisions about the community response, for those who lost their livelihoods, for those who were homeless and for the frontline workers who couldn’t stop working. Those working in supermarkets and other essential shops and services. Those working in hospitals, medical care facilities and emergency services. Those working in nursing homes and those locked up in nursing homes unable to see their loved ones. For those who were separated from loved ones. For the ignorant who claimed COVID was some conspiracy and would not cooperate with community guidelines. And I meant it.

I prayed over an indifference that allows 46 thousand year old, archaeologically significant caves, to be destroyed by the greed of a mining company with few consequences. If Stonehenge with its few thousand years was destroyed there would be an outcry, but 46 thousand years of non European history amounts to little. And I meant it.

I prayed for asylum seekers, locked up for years in harsh government detention with no end in sight. People subjected to unnecessarily harsh treatment by a government that is not listening to God. And I meant it.

I prayed over the injustice in this world. And I meant it.

And I prayed for those impacted by a drought that refuses to end. And I meant it.

That was just my prayers for Australia. There has been so much suffering in this world this year. There have been natural disasters that were largely ignored. There have been too many people considered “black” who have been killed. There has been too little interest in their lives. There is too much greed and complacency and white privilege.

Living in Queensland I have escaped the worst of what this year offered. And I am grateful for God's miracle in this.

Yes we had devastating fires in our local area. But God protected my home and for that I am very grateful.

Yes there were COVID cases in our area. Not many. And yes we were subject to restrictions. But those restrictions were not harsh enough to negatively impact my life. And my family remained healthy. And for that I am very grateful.

We didn’t have the terrible months of second wave conditions and harsh lock downs suffered by other parts of Australia and indeed the world. And for that I am very grateful.

We had a pretty good year.

I am grateful to God for the year that was.

I know that many have had a far worse year.

There are many who are questioning God about their year. Who are wondering when the pain and suffering will let up.

My prayers are with you. And more importantly, God is with you.

I know that seems cold comfort when you are struggling to pay bills, find food and keep a roof over your head. But I know God is with all of us, even when it doesn’t seem that way.

I wonder how much of this pandemic was due to human greed. How much of this was brought on us by our own greed and that of the politicians who could have taken steps to reduce the spread of COVID?

The answers are not very important. What is important is that we trust God. We look to Him for strength and guidance as we step forward into 2021.

It is important that we rejoice in His redemption. 

It is important that we care and pray for others and mean it.

Whatever our circumstances, may God guide you and reveal Himself to you in 2021. And may you experience God’s Joy, true Joy, in 2021.

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