This week, we reflect on the Old Testament reading for the 24th Sunday after Trinity which was on November 6. You may have observed All Saints Day on the 6th instead. If you’d like to read the other readings for the 24th Sunday after Trinity, they are: Colossians 1:9–14 and Matthew 9:18–26.
–By Elizabeth Ahlman
Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD; awake, as in days of old, the generations of long ago. Was it not you who cut Rahab in pieces, who pierced the dragon? Was it not you who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep, who made the depths of the sea a way for the redeemed to pass over? And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
“I, I am he who comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, of the son of man who is made like grass, and have forgotten the LORD, your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, and you fear continually all the day because of the wrath of the oppressor, when he sets himself to destroy? And where is the wrath of the oppressor? He who is bowed down shall speedily be released; he shall not die and go down to the pit, neither shall his bread be lacking. I am the LORD your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the LORD of hosts is his name. And I have put my words in your mouth and covered you in the shadow of my hand, establishing the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth, and saying to Zion, ‘You are my people.’” (Isaiah 51:9-16 ESV)
So often in this life, there are things — little and big — which cause us to cry out to the Lord. Death, destruction, murder, natural disasters, illness, financial strain, broken relationships, presidential elections. All of these confront us in one way or another at some time in our lives. We worry and stress, we fret and we fear. Then we cry out to God to awake and put on His strength.
We have been taught and so we, like the Israelites, can recall all the times in which God has “put on His strength” for His people from the parting of the Red Sea to the defeat of Jericho to the raising of the ruler’s daughter and the healing of the woman with a flow of blood to the crucifixion and resurrection to the pouring out of the Spirit on Pentecost to our own Baptisms. God “puts on His strength” and enters into this world to save us and make a people for Himself.
Sometimes, in the depth of our despair and our sin, we forget these things. We forget that Yahweh has put on His strength for us and continues to do so, but like in the Isaiah passage, Yahweh does not let us forget. He puts His own Word into our mouths by giving us the very body and blood of Jesus. He covers us with His hand and protects us; He covers our sins with the blood of His Beloved Son. He speaks through our pastors and calls to us again to remind us that when we cry out, He surely answers. When we forget, He makes us to remember. When we cannot see His strength at work, He is already reaching out. In His Son, He stretched out His strength — His redemptive work — and He has said to us “You are my people.” In the face of whatever may come, that is a truth which cannot be shaken. It is a truth which comforts. It is a truth which saves.
Let us Pray: Lord God, Heavenly Father, You have awakened and put on strength for us by sending Your Beloved Son to die for us; continually remind us that You are actively protecting, comforting, and saving us, so that we may rest in Your salvific strength until the day when we may see You face-to-face; in the name of Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.