Barren Self-Reliance, Glad Grace-Reliance

Today, God addresses us as follows:

Raise a glad cry, you barren one! (Isaiah 54:1)

Barren one?

At the Last Supper, Peter audaciously declared to the Lord, “I will lay down my life for you.”

He proposed to do this by his own courage, by his own manly vigor. Christ knew better. He knew the measure of Peter’s virility. He refused to accept Peter’s declaration.

As we know, Peter proved to be barren of courage and manliness.

“We saw you with him!” “I do not know the man.” “You are one of his disciples!” “I do not know what you mean.” “You are his friend!” “I do not know him.”

Meanwhile, the crucified thief bravely bore witness to the truth. “O innocent king,” the thief begged, “forgive me my guilt and remember me in your great kingdom to come.”

Christ did accept this. “Raise a glad cry, barren one. You may be languishing on a cross, justly condemned. But you will be with me in paradise this very day.”

Christ spoke these words of consolation to Peter, too. “Tough guy, you turned out to be a barren one, too, didn’t you? …But raise a glad cry, too. You will lay down your life for Me, by the power of my grace, when I say so.”

Self-reliance leaves us bereft and lifeless. Let’s raise a glad cry for the constant help that comes from heaven.

God Answers the Earth’s Question

Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord declared:

I did not establish the earth to be a waste, but designed it to be lived in. (Isaiah 45:18)

These divine words certainly come as a comfort to us. Whether the earth was designed for us or not—this question has perpetually troubled mankind.

On the one hand, earth is a beautiful planet. The sunrises and sunsets frequently dazzle the eye. Resources that help us, feed us, shelter us, and give us a good life—they abound. We can live together here on earth, communicate with each other, co-exist, co-operate, improve the place together.

On the other hand, we mortals have to exercise constant care, industry, and vigilance—or this hardscrabble world will eat us up. Predators of countless kinds lurk in many corners, and some of them, too, are men. The winters here can be brutal. Sicknesses and plagues run rampant. And, after the course of a pilgrim life, be it long or short, the earth swallows us up in death, whether we like it or not.

So: Is this place a home fashioned by heaven for us, or not? We did not make the earth. We long to discover all its secrets, and those of the entire universe. But we humbly acknowledge that we don’t know the half of them. So we are grateful for a heavenly word spoken to us to decide the question.

The greatest secret that the earth has is: Why is it here at all? With all its charms and challenges—that it both delights and confounds—it practically cries out the question itself: Why do I exist? In and of myself, says the world, I don’t make sense! What’s the reason for me?

It is certainly nice for us to know the reason. God made the earth for us to live in. He designed it for us.

When He Himself walked it, His pilgrim life was short and full of aching sorrows. But He intends to return and set His feet here again, never to depart anymore.

When everything is said and done–when we have been purified of all our sins, and Christ’s glory fills the earth forever–then we will live here in eternal peace, delighting in all that is good, freed from everything bad.

Thank you, Lord, for explaining this to us.