The Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, looked around him and he did not like what he saw. Things were messed up, to put it lightly. God had plucked this prophet up out of obscurity and commissioned him to speak truth to a nation who refused to listen… to point others to truth, though they refused to see it.
There is an old story about a man who lived in a small village with his only son and a single horse. One day the horse escaped and he was left with no earthly possessions. The local villagers heard about his plight and told him, “You are cursed!” The man responded, “We do not know if this is a blessing or a curse. All we know is that my horse escaped.”
On the next day his wayward horse returned, but it returned with several other wild horses. Now the man had more earthly possessions than he had started with. The local villagers heard about his good fortune and told him, “You are blessed!” The man responded, “We do not know if this is a blessing or a curse. All we know is that I now have many horses.”
A week later the man’s only son attempted to train one of the wild horses. The untamed, wild horse knocked him down and broke his leg. The local villagers heard about the man’s son and told him, “You are cursed!” The man responded, “We do not know if this is a blessing or a curse. All we know is that my son’s leg is broken.”
On the very next day an army general came through town recruiting every able-bodied young man in the village and sending them off to war. All of the young men were forced to go with the general. All of the young men, of course, except for the one with the broken leg. The local villagers, all of whom lost their young sons that day, told the man through their tears, “You are blessed!” Finally, the man said, ““It is impossible to talk with you. You continue to draw conclusions from things that you do not know. We do not know if this is a blessing or a curse. All we know is that your sons went off to war, and my son remains at home with me. We do not know how this story will end. No one is wise enough to know. Only God knows.”
For most things in life, we simply do not know how the story ends. If circumstances are trending positive, we think we are on top of the world! If circumstances are trending downward, we think it is the end. This is really a foolish way to live our lives, especially for those of us who have put our faith and hope in Jesus!
Check out this verse from the eleventh chapter of the book of Isaiah:
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.Isaiah 11:1, ESV
In Isaiah’s day, Israel was experiencing a significant downward trend! The nation was in moral decline. The people were far from God. They were spiritually dry and spiritually blind. They were like a once beautiful, fruitful tree that had been cut down. But that was not the end of the story. Isaiah spoke of the day when a shoot would come from the stump. The shoot would become a fruitful branch. That shoot, of course, was Jesus!
If you just looked at the stump, you would think it is the end of the story. If you continued in this way of thinking, you would completely miss what God was up to. You would completely miss the redemption.
Imagine how the followers of Jesus must have felt when he was taken away and crucified! If you just looked at his death, you would think that was the end of the story. If you continued in this way of thinking, you would completely miss what God was up to. You would completely miss the resurrection!
And what about us today?
What is happening in the story of our lives today?
Are the circumstances surrounding our lives trending positive or trending downward?
Either way, we can resolve to do as Isaiah did, and choose to look at our circumstances through eyes of faith. Our story is not over yet, and we don’t want to miss what God is up to!