…  In quietness and confidence shall be your strength. But you would not… Isaiah 30:15

Through the years studies have been done on the effect noise has on stress and fatigue.  As expected, people exposed to higher levels of noise experience more stress and greater fatigue whether in an office or airplane or any other venue with noticeable decibels of noise.  And, if you’re one of those people who has full concerts or speeches or sports events going on in your head 24/7, imagine the stress level and fatigue exposure.

The year 2020 has introduced all of us to record-breaking noise:  frightful and contradictory medical reports; apocalyptic political predictions; chilling street pronouncements; alarming community behaviors; and so much more.  Who wouldn’t be disturbed?  Watch any late news broadcast if you want to be up all night.  Engage in any discussion about matters with someone of a different opinion, and be assured you’ll be rattled for hours.  Noise.

The children of Israel were also subject to noise from every side—particularly when they moved from obedience to Jehovah to relying on other alliances with pagan neighbors.  Isaiah was sent to his kinsmen to remind them that strength would come from rejecting panic and being quiet before their God while bolstering their faith in confident reliance on him.  He was the one with whom they had a covenant relationship, the one who had never broken a promise, the one who always responded to their cries for help.  He’s the one who said, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psa. 46:10).  The same God who said, “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” (Exodus 14:13).  Our total dependence is on him.

Isaiah, reminding the Israelites that the secret of their success was quietness and confidence, goes on to say, “But you would not…”  We have the same choices in the middle of this crazy environment.  Will we still our churning thoughts and give all our anxiety to the only one who can bring quietness?  Will we cast our cares on him, fully trusting his faithfulness to strengthen us for whatever circumstances await us?

Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled (Joshua 21:45).  Different time, same God.  Same promises.  What will we do?

Father, the noise is hurting my heart.  I choose your quietness; I rest and am confident in YOU.  AMEN.


Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me!  Psalm 43:1  (ESV)

I doubt that there is a person alive who has not been victimized by injustice.  This may be among life’s most painful experiences.  Slander, false accusations, untimely deaths, undeserved attacks, untrue labels, wrongful judgments, misunderstandings, and miscommunications.  Injustice is especially bitter when it comes from someone we love.

My husband, a state judge, rarely allowed himself to become emotionally involved in his cases, but Stephen’s case was different.  Peter presided over numerous hearings, studied evidence and did personal research of the facts and precedents.  He saw flaws in the presentations and errors in proceedings of other courts, but he was overruled by the appeals court.  One of the most difficult assignments Peter fulfilled was setting the date for Stephen’s execution.  And one of his most wrenching experiences—at Stephen’s request (“Will you come as my friend?”)—was being present at Stephen’s death.

Few of our dealings with injustice are that momentous, but we all know the bitterness that arises from being treated unfairly.  In fact, that pain can be resurrected years after the fact if injustice isn’t resolved.  Jesus showed us how to take the sting from injustice when he suffered on the cross.  He had been betrayed by a friend, and all his most intimate companions had left him.  False accusations were followed by brutal torture, excruciating pain, and death.

On the cross, Jesus, that Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, in final triumph over all the evil of time and eternity, prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).  Omniscient, all-knowing God, through his Son was asked to pardon those who brought unmerited suffering and death to his only Son.  The basis of the argument:  “They know not what they do.”

Can you resolve that puzzle?  They knew they were killing this itinerant preacher.  They knew they were responding to political pressure.  They knew he had done nothing worthy of death.  So what didn’t they know?  They didn’t know who Jesus was.  They didn’t know he was the Son of God, the Lord of Life, the Word, the Savior and Messiah.  Jesus himself had said that only his Father revealed the identity of his Son (Matt. 16:17).  Yes, those who called for Jesus’ death knew about him, but they didn’t know him.  “Father, forgive them…”

Oswald Chambers says that there is always one thing we don’t know about other people, and that may be the very thing that gives insight to their behavior.  It may not excuse it, but it informs the phrase Jesus used, “They know not what they do.”

Is it time to release the bitterness of unjust words, wounds, judgments, suppositions?  Jesus, our example, has showed us how to do it.  Now we can ask him to work forgiveness and healing in us as only he can.

Father, give us grace to forgive just as you’ve forgiven us.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.


Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.  Psa. 19:4

Does anyone remember when parents whipped out a bar of soap and washed those bad words out of the mouths of children who spoke disrespectfully or said naughty words?  If that were the case today, I’d buy stock in Proctor & Gamble, assured that I was set for life.  I must be living in an alternate universe because the language I hear today is not at all familiar.  At the end of some days, I almost feel the need for a good scrub, especially in my ears.

What has happened to polite discourse?  Another thing I remember from childhood is the adage, “If you can’t say anything good about someone, don’t say anything at all.”  Geez.  If that were today’s rule, we’d be hearing nothing but the Sound of Silence.  James was right on target when he wrote, “…the tongue is a fire…and it is set on fire of hell” (Jas. 3:6).

Are you as weary as I am by the horrendous volley of words that seem to be intent on destruction?  What good can come from non-stop derision, fault-finding, judging, ridicule, mockery, and contempt?  And, sadly, this is not a partisan issue.

I’m reading about the early Church in the first three centuries of its history and note that one of the criticisms levied at it was the meanness of the Christians.  Digging a little deeper I saw that non-Christians disparaged Christians because they wouldn’t participate in popular social activities—the theater, the army, classic literature, sports—that were saturated with pagan worship.  Christians knew they were to be set apart from secular practices that were in opposition to Christ.  And what about us?

Do we dare to be different?  Peter says (I Pet. 3:10) that we are to keep our tongues from evil and deceitful speech; our conversation is to be full of grace (Col. 4:6); we should only say what is helpful to build others up and to benefit them (Eph. 4:29); we are to keep our tongues from …lies (Psa. 34:13); we’re not to slander but to be peaceable, considerate, and gentle (Titus 3:2); and the tongue of the wise brings healing (Prov. 12:18).  There are many other directives pertaining to what we say.

Apparently, Isaiah had a problem with his tongue—when he answered God’s call, the angel took a burning coal from the altar and touched his mouth saying his sin was forgiven and his iniquity taken away (Isa. 6:6-7).  I guess even preachers must learn to control their tongues.  And so should we.  I’m ready to take the pledge to use my tongue to build others up and to benefit them.  Enough of this tearing down.  (And that also means I don’t pass judgment on those who weaponize their tongues.  Instead, I pray for them.)

Father, I leave the judging to you, but I ask you to forgive me for using my words to wound rather than to heal.  Make me an instrument of your peace and love.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.


When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”  John 5:6

The man had an unspecified “infirmity” for thirty-eight years.  He was among the crowd who populated the porches around pool of Bethesda, and, with them, he waited for an angel to stir the pool.  Popular thought was that the first person who got into the pool after the angelic visitation would be healed.  Apparently, this infirm man was rather slow—he’d been waiting for thirty-eight years.  Then Jesus happened to walk by. 

The text states that Jesus knew the invalid had been there a long time, but he asked a question that most of us would say was rather (forgive me) stupid.  “Do you want to get well?”  Every single day for thirty-eight years someone had to transport the sick man to the pool.  Every day the man was dependent on someone else to provide food and perhaps even more intimate assistance.  And Jesus comes along and asks if he wants to get well.

In her memorable book, The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom tells of her aunt’s distress over the anniversary of the death of her husband’s aunt many years prior.  Tante Jans required a tonic and quiet in a household of lively children so that she might observe the somber occasion.  Apparently, she wanted to embrace the event that had caused such grief.  Tante Jans didn’t want to release the sorrow.

I have known folks who have suffered but who have also become so identified with their wounds that Jesus’ question would be offensive.  Who wants to be healed of a malady that offers so much recognition, or pity, or admiration, or attention?  Who wants to have to pick up his bed and start the hard, disciplined road to forgiveness, to personal responsibility, to healthy habits?

Someone I love has carried a grievance for many years; in fact, he has carried several grievances for many years.  The bitterness in his soul has affected his body so that now the sickness is in his joints and other parts.  When I urged long ago to let go and forgive, his reply was, “I’m not ready.”

Jesus’ question long ago was not so foolish after all.  God doesn’t overwhelm us and force us to be well.  His healing comes at the cost of our letting go of bitterness and injustice, of thoughtless wounds, of deception, of self pity.  He won’t make us let go.  He just asks the question, “Do you want to be healed?”

Yes, Lord, I release all the suffering I have carried.  Please take it all and make me whole.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.