Hope for the Bruised Reed

Matthew 12:15-21

15 Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all 16 and ordered them not to make him known. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah:

18 “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,

    my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.

I will put my Spirit upon him,

    and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.

19 He will not quarrel or cry aloud,

    nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets;

20 a bruised reed he will not break,

    and a smoldering wick he will not quench,

until he brings justice to victory;

21 and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

I’m not sure about you, but 2020 has felt like it has been a year and a half long, and it’s not even over yet. I’ve giggled over and over about the fact that I have learned nothing if not flexibility this year, but even then I’ve had a full round of emotions along the way. I’ve been angry and resigned to the things that have come our way this year, both in life and ministry. 

I’ve quite often been left feeling like a bruised reed in the past months. A little worn down and a little trampled on. My sense of personal space has been trampled on by my children being home from school and not being able to engage in their usual summer activities. My feelings have been hurt by congregation members who are upset by decisions our church has made regarding safety, even though we know deep down we are putting everyone’s best interests at heart. I have felt pushed around by the back and forth of political accusations and disagreements on Facebook. (Can we agree that’s never a great place to try and change someone’s mind?)

There are plenty of others who have had many more problems: those in severely compromised health situations, those who have lost their jobs, and those who have lost loved ones during this time. 

But there’s the hope of Jesus and the comfort of knowing that God is in control. And I know there are even some believers who are short on hope; maybe even one of you reading this. 

This passage in Matthew talks about Jesus healing people who were ill in a crowd. Matthew shows how Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy of the Old Testament through this action by quoting Isaiah. Jesus did not turn away those who were hurting or those who were in need. He would not go ranting and raving through the streets, trampling over people to make His message known. He would not cut and destroy; He would bring about justice in a new way the people did not understand. 

God knew that the nations of people would put their hope in Jesus and that is still where our hope needs to remain unwavering today. 

It’s easy to just tell someone who’s hurting that they need to have hope and throw some Bible verses their way, but I’ve found that’s not always helpful to me. Most of us who know and love the Lord understand deep down that God’s love never changes, even if our circumstances do. 

What is helpful to me is understanding that God KNOWS and He CARES and that’s what helps give me HOPE. Feeling known and cared for helps me trudge forward in this walk that is full of unknown. But I think the important thing to remember is that we are human; we aren’t going to do everything the correct way every time and in every situation. While we are not perfect, there is One who is. He knew sending Jesus to the earth and giving Him (and us) the Holy Spirit would change the way humans lived. He knew how it would change the course of the earth and continues to do so. He knows our hurts and fears and needs and wants.

Reading and soaking in His Word and hearing from those who are encouraging me, helps me to understand over and over that He is the One who heals, brings justice, and does not crush those who are despairing. 

As life continues to lead to more questions than answers, I’ve been more and more resolved to continue to HOPE instead of wallow in my circumstances and the opinions of others. I pray for all of us who are in ministry, that we would be HOPE-filled leaders who can remember to be gentle and not crush the bruised reeds around us while proclaiming the One who can give us HOPE.

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