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Bruised Reeds

bruised-reed

Isaiah 42:1-4 speaks of the type of servant God will uphold.  In particular, these verses refer to the Messiah (see Matthew 12:15-21).  I’m drawn particularly to verse 3 — “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.”

In his book The God of the Towel, Jim McGuiggan notes the reed referred to in this passage (a kaneh in Hebrew) was one that grew tall and was used in a variety of ways.  However, it was very fragile and if they were damaged (bruised), they were considered useless.  A smoldering wick was one in which the oil in it was nearly exhausted, and thus it began to dry out and give off smoke as the flame began to die.  The natural thing to do would be to snuff it out.

And isn’t that how we often think God will treat us — we who are struggling with addiction or going through separation or coming to terms with having betrayed someone’s trust?  Or who are dealing with sickness or the loss of a loved one  or the wayward child or job loss.  We are broken and spiritually dried out.  Who could blame God for getting rid of a bother, a useless aggravation, an exasperating failure?

But God doesn’t do that!  He doesn’t despise a “bruised reed.”  He knows how fragile you are and He will not give you so much that you will splinter and break. As McGuiggan notes, He will carefully, without overwhelming the feeble wick, gently blow and expertly remove debris, prod and fan and pour in new oil so the sputtering, almost extinguished flame can burn bright and give light.

For some of us, in order to begin this renewal, He is just waiting for us to return to our first love.   Not only waiting, but reaching out to us.  When we finally give up trying to make it on our own, refusing to come to God with that unconfessed, unacknowledged sin; when we give up our pride, and come to Him with godly sorrow and repentance,  we will experience the joy and blessedness that David spoke of in Psalm 32.

For others of us, we are “broken” not because of sin we haven’t dealt with, but simply because of what life has thrown at us.  Broken relationships between parents and children, husbands and wives, friends and colleagues; Dreams unfulfilled; Rejected for job; Living on the financial edge; Abused; Sick.  All of these things result in loneliness, frustration, fear, insecurity, feelings of worthlessness.

But read Isaiah 42:1-4 again.  How heartening!  What joy!  God will not toss out the weak, or trample “the bruised” and “the smoldering”, those who might otherwise feel useless or too broken to matter.  Remember — as a child of God, YOU are Beloved and chosen by Him.  He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Walk with Him, rest in His love, and know that you have a place and a usefulness in His plan.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  — Matthew 11:28-29

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