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Intimate, Tender Mercies

There have been times I’ve felt like giving up ministry, or aspects of it. I often feel distracted, stretched to my limit, and spent, often all at once. Even as I’m writing this, it feels as if I can’t quite get my brain to function as it ought to. Yet God reveals Himself in some of the most unbelievable and personal ways. One of my online ministries is a (mostly) twice weekly video cast on Bible studies, answering questions that people send in to the group, and personal thoughts. At times, I question the effectiveness of it. But yesterday, I received a package in the mail from half way across the world. The person felt compelled to contribute to the ministry, but what was sent with it had me far more excited than the contribution. It was a book by J.R.R. Tolkien, Illustrated by Alan Lee. This may not seem like a lot to some people, but to me this was so wonderful. I have been a fan of Tolkien’s since I was a kid, and used to spend hours thumbing through my dad’s art book collections with Alan Lee, the Hildebrand brothers, and other artists, all inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien and his work. All this sent by a brother in Christ who wanted to support my ministry. I’m not sure if this brother understood the significance of this gift, but it showed me that God reaches out through people in ways that are so intimate and personal, only He could be in the details. And I’ve seen such things occur throughout my ministry, often when I’m down, depressed, and stretched to my limit. God sends His intimate, tender mercies to us all the time, but sometimes we’re so bogged down with the cares that life piles on us that we don’t often appreciate it enough. God reaches out, sometimes through people, sometimes through memories, sometimes through little moments that we can’t quite explain other than “God showed up.” He gave proof of His love by sending Jesus to die in our place, and yet He reminds us that we need to seek Him out, always, and He reminds us, often of why He is worthy to be praised. He is our author, our designer, He knows every one of our breaths, all of our days, holds each tear in a bottle. So focus on those intimate, tender mercies. Let God sustain you, uplift you, and hold you in His victorious righteous right hand. And He will give rest to your soul. Isaiah 41:1-20

Listen to me in silence, O coastlands; let the peoples renew their strength; let them approach, then let them speak; let us together draw near for judgment.

Who stirred up one from the east whom victory meets at every step? He gives up nations before him, so that he tramples kings underfoot; he makes them like dust with his sword, like driven stubble with his bow. He pursues them and passes on safely, by paths his feet have not trod. Who has performed and done this, calling the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he.

The coastlands have seen and are afraid; the ends of the earth tremble; they have drawn near and come. Everyone helps his neighbor and says to his brother, “Be strong!” The craftsman strengthens the goldsmith, and he who smooths with the hammer him who strikes the anvil, saying of the soldering, “It is good”; and they strengthen it with nails so that it cannot be moved.

But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all. For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”

Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel! I am the one who helps you, declares the LORD; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. Behold, I make of you a threshing sledge, new, sharp, and having teeth; you shall thresh the mountains and crush them, and you shall make the hills like chaff; you shall winnow them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the tempest shall scatter them. And you shall rejoice in the LORD; in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory.

When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the LORD will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will put in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive. I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane and the pine together, that they may see and know, may consider and understand together, that the hand of the LORD has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.

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