Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord God is my strength and my defense; God has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. – Isaiah 12:2-3 (NRSV)
One summer, I led a graveside prayer service for a young person who was killed at just 15 years old. Before an open grave I spoke the old words again. “In the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life in Jesus Christ…”
I’ve spoken those words many times at the graveside. They are words of deepest hope and surest faith. And they are words only ever spoken from the depths of profoundest grief.
Our faith is like that. We speak our most beautiful and sturdy words only from the very worst depths.
Isaiah’s words are the same. They are words of calm assurance spoken at a moment of profound national crisis, when the collapse of all that was good was just around the corner. Jesus’ words are the same. The last are first and the lost are found and the way that leads to life runs through the heart of death’s dread valley.
I can’t understand any of it. Exegete as I might, study as I might, preach as I might, I can’t understand it. How can such beauty shine amidst the ugliest heaps of reality? I can’t understand it.
But I don’t need to understand it. I need it to be true. Down deep in my bones, past my feelings, past my thoughts, past my understanding, at the very heart of what it means to live and die, I need it all to be true.
May the peace that passes all understanding attend all of us.