But these days, as wonderful as Isaiah 40 is, I consider myself more of an Isaiah 54 person. Isaiah 54 speaks of blessings in the age of the Servant — Jesus — who is hymned in chapters 49-53. God's greatest desire is to bestow these blessings on us, and He does it not because we manage to merit the blessings but because He is good. Here are some of the things He says:
Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.
Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.
You will forget the shame of your youth
and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. (Isaiah 54:4)
To me this is like the days of Noah,
when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth.
So now I have sworn not to be angry with you,
never to rebuke you again.
Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,"
says the Lord, who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:9-10)
I will make your battlements of rubies,
your gates of sparkling jewels,
and all your walls of precious stones.
All your children will be taught by the Lord,
and great will be their peace.
In righteousness you will be established:
Tyranny will be far from you;
you will have nothing to fear.
Terror will be far removed;
it will not come near you.
If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing;
whoever attacks you will surrender to you. (Isaiah 54:12-15)
No weapon forged against you will prevail,
and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
and this is their vindication from me,"
declares the Lord. (Isaiah 54:17)
The positive, hopeful, reassuring quality of God is not a tepid or mildly aspirational thing. It is a roaring fire, as mighty and uncompromising as His righteousness and His promises. This quality, and not the sorrowful consciousness of sin and death, is the standard we are to raise in battle.
Hope and righteousness are not under siege; they are stronger, more active, more transformative, and more enduring than evil and despair, which are paralyzing and cowardly, and bring only weakness. Hope and righteousness are the winning position. They cannot be defeated.
God is a God of life and hope, not guilt and sorrow. He doesn't want America to fail; He doesn't want any people to fail. As we approach what many sense will be a turning point in history, I don't know that we have yet scratched the surface of what it means to be covered by the grace of Jesus Christ.
What if it means that today's America can defy the iron rules of history — can be forgiven, healed, and renewed — and that other nations can be as well? What if it means that the younger generations will have "hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11) unlike anything imagined before — rather than slavery to the wrongs of the past? What if it means that, through the very tongues that speak today, the gospel of Christ will yet light every corner of the world?
We don't know the hour of Jesus' return (Matthew 24:36). But we do know, from I John 5:15, that "if we ask anything according to His will, [God] hears us. And if we know that He hears us — whatever we ask — we know that we have what we asked of him."