Title: Dealing with disaster!
Text: Isaiah 12:6b, “Israel's holy God is great and he lives among his people.”
What do we do when disaster strikes? Here are some examples. For Isaiah, disaster came in the form of a world power intent on crushing his people, to be followed by another one on the horizon. Martha grieved the loss of her brother. She said to Jesus,”If you had been here, Lord, my brother would not have died. Expected loss of a loved one is disaster indeed! John Bunyan had trouble with the established Church which forced him to write,”Who would valiant be 'gainst all disaster. Let him in constancy, follow the Master.” Three things can help us.
1) The Call to faith!
Isaiah sought to give strength and comfort to his people. Believe! He implies, because God is amongst us. “He lives with his people.”He highlights many things to demonstrate this. It was the same prophet who said in Chapter 7, verse 14b,”A young woman who is pregnant will have a son and will name him Immanuel.” Don't be surprised if this reminds you of Christmas, because the words spoken to Joseph in Matthew 1:23 were,”A virgin will become pregnant and have a son, and he will be called Immanuel, which means God is with us.
Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that he taught us to pray,”Our Father who art in heaven” and promised salvation to all who believe in Him. Let us, then, believe that God is with us even when we feel disaster is upon us. Isaiah says that God remains with us right to the end- even when we are old and grey! This then is the message for the church – Believe!
2) The call to Service!
The prophet reminds Israel also that it has an obligation to help the poor, the sick, the orphaned, the widowed, the bereaved and so on. Disaster should not overwhelm us with self pity.
There are people who need help. This is a message for the people of Israel, for the Church and for our congregation. If we follow Jesus' ministry in the Gospels, and the work of the Apostles in Paul's letters, we find the same message,”Help one another, serve one another- have compassion as Jesus did for the sick, and all those in need.
God indeed will remain with us as we serve the needy in the name of Jesus Christ. The message is-
keep on, the work is never finished.
3) The Call for Repentance!
Isaiah knew his people so well, that despite the looming disasters in their lives, they had not lived the right way. He talks about the Road of Holiness in Chapter 35, verse 8,”There will be a highway there, called, “The Road of Holiness”. No sinners will ever travel that road.”
It is a challenge to all of us to repent of our sins, as also John the Baptist urged. It is built into our services. To deal with disaster, we also must repent!
“In constancy, follow the Master”, as John Bunyan puts it! Despite everything being against us, God is with us always. Believe and then Act! Serve the Lord with gladness, but also repent! Choose to follow Christ on the way to holiness and believe that there is forgiveness. Isaiah 1:18,”You are stained red with sin, but I will wash you as clean as snow. Although your stains are deep red, you will be as white as wool.”