Listen, you who remain and are suffering pain, hear what things I heard from the Lord of hosts, which the God of Israel declared to us. The vision of Edom: He calls to me from Seir. "Guard the battlements. I guard in the morning and at night. If you will inquire, inquire and dwell with me." In the forest on the road of Dedan you will lodge. Bring water to meet him who is thirsty, you inhabitants of the land of Teman; meet those who are fleeing with bread, because of the multitude who are fleeing and the multitude of those fallen in war." Isaiah 21: 10-15
I don't very often try to do any "Bible Study", but this really jumped out at me today. You see, one of the perpetual questions I have in my life is: "How, specifically, can I "live out the Gospel" when I have chronic fatigue issues and intermittent (but frequent) bouts of pain, especially when I over-do?
It seems on most days I can barely keep hearth and home running smoothly and there is hardly any energy left for any sort of "outreach" or "ministry". I'm sure this reality is "for my salvation", as we Orthodox like to put it. There is something in my soul that needs this aspect of my life.
So these verses stood out to me today. What? God is saying specifically something to those who are suffering and in pain?
The context here is a prophecy about refugees coming down the road. So, what do you do with the refugees? You are just sitting there, doing your thing, and you are also suffering and in pain and here come the refugees?
Very often, the stuff in the OT can be read as an analogy for the spiritual struggle, and that is how I'm reading this.
1. Guard the battlements. Just because I'm in pain or am suffering does not mean I have a free pass not to be on guard for my spiritual life. Morning and Evening. When I'm feeling sick it is so tempting to let that "time with the Lord" slide.
2. "If you will inquire, inquire and dwell with me." When I get tired, I tend to zone out and flood myself with information to distract from the fatigue and pain. Oh, I could be specifically "turning to the Lord" at these times. Too often I do not. I want to grow in this and do better.
3. Offer bread and water to the refugees who come my way. There's a quote somewhere that goes like this: "Be kind to everyone for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle." something like that. Who are the "refugees" who need bread and water? Anyone and everyone. Aren't we ALL refugees in a sense, on some level? I think sometimes that's literal bread and water ad sometimes it is kindness, prayer, spiritual things. If my own well is dry and my own basket is empty I have nothing to give and the Lord can't use me. I'm also reminded of the words of Christ about offering a cup of cold water in His name. Sometimes all we can do is pray. Even that is worth something, since God made the water.
I'm not writing this to justify myself "not doing anything." I clearly have room to grow. It's actually more of a challenge to me: What am I turning to first when that fatigue and pain hits me? Am I turning my heart to the Lord, my eyes to the Scriptures and my thoughts to prayer? Or is it facebook, gmail, "lite reading" and the television?
Time to guard the battlements. Time to inquire and dwell with the Lord.