So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)
We often fail to remember that God is persistent. That doesn’t mean things are always easy for God or that God simply wants something to happen and it somehow magically or automatically does. Life is cumbersome and often filled with detours. This is no less true for God than for any of us. God’s work to bring life and love to all of creation is hard work and a long-term commitment to the world in which we live.
There are religious traditions that emphasize God’s “almighty status” in almost miraculous ways. Some of those even say that if you get in right with God, say the right prayers, connect with the right ministry, or donate to the right cause you might tap into this. If you have the right kind of faith, you can get God to work for you! Doesn’t that sound wonderful?
In reality, the Bible paints a much different picture. In a world of life and death where people live in the midst of all sorts of realities, life can be a mix of wonderful and awful and everything in between. We often ask how someone is doing and get the response, “Two steps forward and one step back” or even worse, “One step forward and two steps back.”
Isaiah paints a picture of the kind of God needed to work in the kind of world that we are in. It is not a fairy tale picture. But at the same time it is a picture that introduces us to a God in whom we can put our hope and trust.
God’s word speaks and lifts up God’s dream and desire. But it is more than a wish. The promise is that as God sends off this vision of the world as it will be, it will not be just empty words. It will accomplish what God desires. It may be out working a while and the work may be slow and even circuitous. But it will work. It will not come back to God until it has done what it was sent to do.
Bringing love and life to every situation is hard work. But God is committed to it and will not give up. In Christ we see the outcome. Life wins. In the mean time, we wait and watch but always with hope.