We know how often we pray to ask for God's help. We know too that God's help may come in unexpected ways and unexpected times. How careful are we to thank God for a specific answer to prayer? Such thanks form part of our ongoing relationship with God.
Our human nature tends to assume that of course the plane will arrive on time; that of course the fridge will be full of food; that of course our studies will lead to fulfilling jobs and material success. When our plans fail something seems terribly wrong. When we consider, however, that we are living in a fallen world, that human nature is basically sinful and that we ourselves are far from perfect, what is amazing is that anything ever goes right.
Isaiah remembers to acknowledge boldly the assistance of God:
But the Lord God helps me;
therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like a flint;
and I know that I shall not be put to shame. (Isaiah 50:7) E.S.V.
The prophet is thankful for the courage and confidence he draws from God.
Isaiah goes on to say:
He who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me?
Let us stand up together.
Who is my adversary?
Let him come near to me. (Isaiah 50:8)
Isaiah is clearly not afraid of his adversaries. Perhaps the words "come near to me" can be seen as a peaceful overture. His relationship with God enables him to take extraordinary initiatives. This verse reminds us of Paul's statement-"if God is for us, who can be against us"-in Romans 8:31.
Sometimes it is difficult even to identify what are our problems or adversaries. In such a case, Isaiah simply says:
Let him who walks in darkness
and has no light
trust in the name of the Lord
and rely on his God. (Isaiah 50:10b)
I like the phrase "walks in darkness." Even when we are confused, we continue to act, to walk, to do the best we can, trusting in God all the while.
In summary, these few verses indicate a multi-faceted kind of relationship with God which includes thankfulness, courage and trust.
Thomas Merton comments on the significance of dependence on God as an aspect of our relationship with God:
"Our knowledge of God is paradoxically a knowledge not of him as the object of our scrutiny, but of ourselves as utterly dependent on his saving and merciful knowledge of us. It is in proportion as we are known to him that we find our real being and identity in Christ. We know him in and through ourselves in so far as his truth is the source of our being and his merciful love is the very heart of our life and existence. We have no other reason for being, except to be loved by him as our Creator and Redeemer, and to love him in return. There is no true knowledge of God that does not imply a profound grasp and an intimate personal acceptance of this profound relationship."
Merton, Thomas. Contemplative Prayer (New York: Doubleday) 1996, p. 83.
This means, among other things, that God wants to know us and to hear from us.
In the spirit of fellowship in the name of Jesus,