Updated: May 19, 2019
A reflection on:
"Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel! I will help you,' says the Lord and your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel."(Isaiah 41:14)
This is a verse that I like to think upon from time to time, and it's a verse which I enjoy because of the impact it has had on me in light of my understanding of its significance. When I was a child- I spoke like a child, reasoned like a child, comprehended like a child. And as a child in Christ I recall the former days in which I would stumble across this verse and as I read it with a carnal mind, it would make me laugh and bring me joy. The reason why was simple: it was as if the Lord was roasting and mocking Israel. Could you imagine what that must've looked like? To be gathered in a place where the Lord has appointed to make His name dwell, for you to be in the midst of a crowd of God's people, and for God to speak with a voice that causes the mountains to melt like wax before Him and to hear, "Thus says the Lord, you worm Jacob," "You worm Maria," or "You worm Isaac." There is no doubt that there would be some among those who are gathered and present that would struggle with the reflex of smirking, or even struggle to contain and hide their laughter under their breath. "Man I wouldn't want to be him. I wouldn't want to her. God called them a worm, how pathetic!" And often times when I would read it I would have an innate reaction to smirk and giggle within myself as I read this. However as I began to desire to take steps forward in the faith in hopes of maturing, I was rewarded with great tribulations and the birth pangs which the Lord so graciously warned us of. And I recall a time in which I was heavy laden with the weight of my failures, futilities, and expectations in light of what God asks of us through the gospel that I found myself praying for the Lord to speak to me- I chose a random number , prayed, and opened up my bible to Isaiah 41:14 [this verse] and in that instant I understood that the worm was in fact me.
As this realization I was flooded with conviction, which lead me to first repentance but hope that the Lord promised to help me: a standing in which I was able to remain still- yet positioned under the waterfall of the grace of God revealed through Christ and I began to see victories. Yet more than that, I consciously acknowledged that those victories were attributed to Christ alone. Perhaps you to are struggling to overcome some sort of sin or trial- remember, that we are not called to walk in our own righteousness [that is to have the attitude of saying "I will do this" or "I can"], but rather throw ourselves at the mercy of God [through simply sincerity and acknowledgment of our broken nature] asking for the grace of Christ to walk in victory, thus walking in His righteousness, boasting in Christ alone.
Some time later, after experiencing various victories over my bosom's sin the Lord saw fit to allow me to [in His mercy] be met with rejection and ridicule for my "change" of outlook by those around me. Suddenly I became the "holier than thou" and "super spiritual" person for simply trying to share the mercy and grace that I had found in Christ. And perhaps this is where you find yourself currently- no longer ensnared by various sins, nor carrying the weight of your failures, yet carrying a weight nonetheless. You don't understand why, seeing as your not stuck in sin, but yet you still feel helpless. And what's worse is that you find that there are few [more likely none] who understand you. You attempt to find comfort by attending church meetings, however you have already been silently shunned as being "the odd one out." In the moments when you find yourself opening up and expressing your inner turmoil to others, your met with a reaction of disapproval- that's not what a true Christian looks like. Christians are happy, always joyful. You must be doing something wrong. Or simply reviled and mocked- "I thought you were some level 50 super Christian. What went wrong?" And you fight with inner thoughts of confusion- "Why are people who don't care about seeking God seem to be so happy and here I am seeking God and I'm lonely and feel helpless.."
When that day comes, rejoice and leap for joy- for it marks the day in which you have begun to learn how to bear your cross. You need but to look to Jesus and His sufferings, as the Spirit of Christ spoke through the prophet David of His time on the cross as such:
"My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; and in the night season, and am not silent. But You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in You; they trusted, and You delivered them. They cried to You, and were delivered; they trusted in You, and were not ashamed. But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised by the people. All those who see Me ridicule Me; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, 'He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him; let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!"(Psalms 22:1-8)
The key verse being verse 6:
"But I [Jesus] am a worm, and no man..."
Jesus teaches that if anyone should desire to follow Him they must, "[D]eny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."(Mathew 16:24) All desire to be liberated from the weight of sin, failures, and shame. And for most it is easy to ask for the grace to deny ourselves- that is, from our corrupt nature like Paul who testifies:
"O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God- through Jesus Christ our Lord!"(Romans 7:24-25a)
Yet there are few who respond to the love of our Lord whom delivered us from our iniquities that are willing to love Him in return- that is, to replace the burden of our sins, failures and shame, for the weight of a cross. The Lord does not force a cross on an unwilling soul, but to those who should choose experience a deeper intimacy- one in which a person comes to the realization that the only One who could ever possibly understand them is Christ alone. It wasn't until a few months ago that I gained an even deeper grasping of this verse- through a testimony which went as follows:
Two brothers [in Christ] had met up one evening and were bored, so naturally they began to brainstorm what they could do. As they bounced ideas off one another, the first brother suddenly asked the second "Wait a second, you have a dog right?" To which the second replied "Yes." "Then how about we spend the evening with our dogs? We could go on a walk with them, and afterward go to the park and play with them." However the idea did not appear to intrigue the second brother at all as he immediately shot down the idea. "Why not?" "Because my dog is annoying, and I don't want to devote an entire afternoon with him, that's why. He's not obedient, he never stops barking, and that does not sound enjoyable whatsoever." Unpleased with his brothers rebuttal the first brother continued and tried to persuade his brother- "Alright, but hear me out: we are both Christians right? And we're called to live a life of humility. Imagine the humility which would be revealed if we spent the evening with our dogs.." Growing irate the second brother asks "And how exactly would spending the evening with our dogs reveal our humility?" To which the first reasoned "Well because dogs are lower in creation. We would show our humility in the same manner that Jesus did- being made lower than angels and into the image of man!" The second brother grew silent as he began to think. He didn't want to spend the evening with his dog, yet had to give a justifiable reason [though he was not fond of the "game" his brother was apparently playing]. After some time of silence, the first brother asks "So then it's settled. We'll spend the evening with our dogs?" To which the second finally opens his mouth and says "No. We're not going to spend the evening with our dogs, but we'll spend it with worms instead." Angered by his response, the first brother responds immediately "That's not funny. And I don't appreciate you mocking me." "No, no, no" the second replies, "Hear me out! I liked what you said, only I want to take it a step further! If spending an evening with our dogs reveals our humility because they are less in creation, how much more do you suppose our humility would be revealed if we spent it with worms instead? Surely worms are far less in creation than dogs!" "No, that would just be a waste of time!" His brother snapped, "A worm is worthless. At least a dog is capable of appreciating our company! At least dogs will acknowledge our love and show us love in return. Worms do nothing but just sit there. Worms won't appreciate it if we spent time with them, in fact- it would be pointless because worms can't comprehend what we would even be doing for them, nor would they be able to repay the love because they will never be able to understand the fact that we sacrificed our time for them!"
And yet that is exactly what it's like for us with God..
"Fear not, you worm of Jacob, you men of Israel! I will help you,' says the Lord your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel."(Isaiah 41:14)
God created man in His image and rested, yet sat on His throne of glory while also enthroned with praises. It is written of Christ that He was:
"Beside [the Father] and [sat as] a master craftsman; and [Christ] was daily [the Father's] delight. Rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in His inhabited world, and [Christ's] delight was with the sons of men."(Proverbs 8:30-31)
All things were made by Him, through Him, and for Him [Colossians 1:16], and yet while standing next to the Father He watched the sons of men and saw our futility- our downfall, our persistent disobedience, our failure. And so in His humility He came down, and yet like worms we often don't fully appreciate it. Like worms who are void of understanding, we easily overlook the sacrifice that Christ made. Like worms we often don't fully appreciate the moments in which God desires, even longs to spend an evening with us shut alone with Him because we choose rather to occupy ourselves with anything else that can distract us because we are but worms, and it is in our nature. In the moments that we find ourselves experiencing authentic divine moments with God- whether it be from spending an evening in the Word meditating upon it, or if it be in prayer [as we ask for the grace to overcome and endure], we mustn't forget the mercy that is being shown towards us. Not to be like children who are focused on self- self pity, self concern, self interest; but on the contrary, to reach a point after praying for the grace to continue to be able to reflect and appreciate Him. To stand in awe of His majesty, because like worms we have nothing of value that we can ever offer to Him, nor is there any worth in me that He should come- yet He chooses to do it anyway for His glory sake. A man will be rewarded in accordance to his labor, and what does Jesus receive for His? It is the praises of those whom He has called out of the darkness and conveyed into His marvelous light [I Peter 2:9]