Gospel Doctrine Old Testament Lesson #38; Isaiah 40–49
These heavy chapters begin with God’s words of comfort to His covenant people. We are given to see the end from the beginning—all the crooked byways of the earth will be made passable and humanity will participate in one great theophany. All flesh will see the glory of the One Lord together! (Isaiah 40:5). God’s word is everlasting, while flesh is as fleeting as grass. God is strong—“all nations before him are as nothing” (40:17). But to His Israelite flock, He is the shepherd who gently gathers His lambs to His bosom.
The God of these chapters is without equal or parallel. He begins and He is at the end, “the Creator of the ends of the earth, [who] fainteth not, neither is weary” (40:28). His understanding is unsearchable. When even the strength of the young fails, He imparts superhuman strength. This is the God of the promised gathering—“every one that is called by my name” (43:7). There is no God before or after Him. “Beside me there is no Savior” (43:11). He decries the “strange god” (43:12) and the idol. Lest his children find “the Lord of hosts” (44:6) terrifying, He counsels his children, “Fear ye not, neither be afraid” (44:8).
The God of Creation and destroyer of counterfeits is the Savior and revelator. This is the Mother God, who follows Her child throughout the entire life cycle (46:3-4). This is also the God who protects from disaster (43:2) and tries by fire, to purify and make strong, for His own purposes. For me, I don’t know about you, these glorious promises and Isaiah’s prophecies of destruction are a lot to deal with mentally and emotionally. One God, one savior, is a simple premise, and in the multifaceted world we live in, there are indeed many crooked paths we need God to make straight. Yet, he does not always do it in a timely or efficient way.
I have seen Christ work in a flowing stream of miracles in my life. They have helped me heal by degrees. God’s will for me was not that I be quickly healed from a brain injury, but that I learn and grow in a very gradual fashion. God provides ways and means for His work to be accomplished. I have been promised complete recovery in multiple priesthood blessings, and yet I still hope that this will one day come to pass. God allows us to take the long way, sometimes for the view and sometimes for the survival skills. I have learned that saving does not always mean fixing, even some of the biggest disasters we can face.
Jesus is my Savior. I turn to Him for physical strength, relief from physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pain, and many time-sensitive healing needs. When I am overcome by fatigue, emotional overwhelm, mental burnout, or physical pain, I am not always able to muster the same degree of faith. Intellectually I know that Christ could cause all my pains and troubles to go away instantaneously. I also know that Christ does not necessarily lift us out of dire circumstances miraculously. He is ever and always beside us, in every one of those circumstances.
He also gives us helpers. Medicine and surgery and medical breakthroughs and scientific research and counselors and self-reliance and self-education. Friends in our wards and family members. He sends angels and timely coincidences and new connections and avenues we had not considered before. He is our Savior, and He knows how to save us perfectly. There is no other -ology, or -ism, idea or person, who can compare with the all-encompassing depth of the Savior’s atonement and its intimate knowledge of us. It undergirds everything. It is our foundation. It contains the answers to the deepest longings of our souls, and like a treasure, sometimes it must be sought, desperately, pleadingly, and sometimes not. Sometimes, perhaps always in a trillion seen and unseen ways, it rains mercies upon us. If these are not from Jesus, then from whom?
“Christ knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer. . . . He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism. Let me go further. There is nothing you have experienced as a woman that He does not also know and recognize . . . on a profound level. He understands both the physical pain of giving birth and the immense joy. He understands about rape and infertility. He understands your mother-pain when your five-year-old leaves for kindergarten, when a bully picks on your fifth-grader. . . . His last recorded words to His disciples were, ‘And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.’ (Matthew 28:20) We know that the world is a dark place sometimes, but we need not walk in darkness. We need Him, and He is ready to come to us if we’ll just open the door and let Him.” Chieko N. Okazaki, Lighten Up.
Also, read Elizabeth’s poem, “Threshing with God, A Psalm of Brain Injury.”