Read: Isaiah 40:1-11
He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms. (v. 11)
One of my earliest memories is of my mother singing a lullaby that goes, “Jesus, tender Shepherd, hear me, / Bless Thy little lamb tonight.”
We tend to “grow out” of that feeling of being lulled in the arms of someone tender. We also “grow out” of thinking of God as one who has tender feelings for us. Yes, we trust that God is the almighty Judge. And if we are committed to the Christian life, we accept that God disciplines, challenges, and chastens us. Yet we grow up in a world that is hard, so it’s easy to imagine that the God who calls and forms us is hard too.
The book of Isaiah chronicles a particularly hard period of Israel’s history. God’s chosen people had neglected his wisdom, ways, and warnings for centuries. God made it clear from the beginning that if Israel followed his commands, life would go well. For generations, however, God’s people rebelled, and life went very badly. In the midst of this dark chapter, God came to his people not only with necessary confrontation, but with words of compassion like that of a mother for a wayward child (Isaiah 49:15). And God envisioned enveloping his people the way a shepherd gathers a beloved lamb to himself (40:11). God’s heart breaks over the hurts inflicted by this hard world. Your God is a God who looks on you with tenderness and longs to gather you up in his arms. —Ben Van Arragon
As you pray, remember that God looks on you with tenderness.