You know how when your doubtful, discouraged, confused, upset, hurt, or overwhelmed, and you put your head down? You look down because looking up seems to take too much strength, you look down because looking at someone, or even more so, someone looking at you, just brings out too much pain. It’s the connection of eye contact that makes us feel known, and for some reason, it can either be the most beautiful and joy-filled experience, or it can be excruciatingly hard.
As I hung my head low, looking down, Scripture cushioned the fall my eyes had taken. As only God can do, I found my way to Isaiah 41:10-13, where the margin of my Bible was filled with a note I made months ago.
Isaiah 41:10 says, “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
THEN, go down a few verses and Isaiah 41:13 says, “For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
Has someone ever tried to hold your right hand with their right hand? Kind of awkward and weird – unless they’re standing in front of you.
God holds my right hand with His righteous right hand. I get to hold on in faith and I can see directly in front me. At the same time, God holds on in love and faces all that is behind me. He looks at my past and wipes it clean, He looks at my sin and defeats it, He looks at my moments of doubt and confusion, and in the power of His breathe, His words, His glance, they crumble and are turned to faith and confidence in Him.
I can see my future, the path He has cleared for me, and the promises that He has made being fulfilled. All the while He lovingly, willingly, compassionately, and graciously deals with my ugliness. He holds on, never letting go, steadying my course, keeping me stable, and loving me so hard, so recklessly.
It’s as though when I put my head down, feeling the weight of my circumstances and the confusion they cause filling up my head and my heart, I can feel the presence of God in front of me. He puts His finger to my chin, gently causes me to look up into His loving and compassionate eyes, He reaches out and He embraces me. He holds the tears I cry and He stays with me, making Himself known to me through my doubt, fears, and trials.
It’s this embrace that guards me from the messiness of the situations I face, it’s this embrace that protects me from the swords, spears, words, lies, hardship, and affliction I face. Although this embrace does not make these things disappear, it does give me the strength and hope to face them fearlessly, boldly, and with love in my heart.
Sometimes the most random, unforeseen, and completely messy situations arise in our lives. We didn’t see them coming and they’re extremely complicated. Things that should be exciting and good can quickly turn into things that cause fear and doubt. Sometimes, a grace-filled heart can be drained by hurt and confusion. Sometimes an answer to prayer is followed by a long-stretch of attacks – ones that tell us lies and work so hard to totally defeat us. Sometimes things are just really, really, hard.
But it’s this verse in Isaiah that helps me narrow my vision and focus on God.
I thank and praise the Lord for not only the illustration that His Word provides, but for the reality and truth it pours into my heart. I thank God for lifting my eyes up so that I see Him looking at me with love. I thank Him for holding my hand while He combats, faces, and fights all that is behind me. I thank Him for making a way for me and for being near as I take steps into what is unknown to me, but completely known by Him.
I look into His eyes and He looks into mine, and the love overwhelms my soul. I melt under the warmth of His heart for me meeting my desperation for Him. And somehow, though nothing makes sense and I don’t know what to do next, I have unspeakable peace. He stills the storm, clears the fog, and makes a way. For that reason, amongst so many others, His praise will ever be on my lips.