Isaiah 50:4–9a (NRSV)
Verse 4The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens- wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught. Verse 5The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward. Verse 6I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting. Verse 7The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; Verse 8he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me. Verse 9It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty? All of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up.
Over the last few years, I have paid more attention to how often April Fool’s Day arrives during Lent or Holy Week. Previously I had somehow missed that. This day might be accompanied by silly exchanges and jokes—especially if you share life with a child.
In light of how often oral and written exchanges in society can be injurious and insulting, maybe we can add our voices today to the kind of words that bring life. What’s more, today’s reading captures my playful imagination with the statement that a mere word can sustain the weary. The poet awakens each day listening for God’s teaching, ready to face the adversary’s insult and injury with confidence that God will provide help and vindication.
Recently, as a part of our devotions, my prayer partners and I have been sharing humorous photos or quotes. It has become a habit that means that no matter what is burdening us, we can expect a reminder that we do not walk this journey alone, and that it is possible to find something to smile about each day because God provides the help we need.
God whose words give life, use me to speak your wisdom so others will find strength to face each new day, confident that you give us the courage to stand. Amen.