“Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law.” Isaiah 42:1-4
God’s prophet Isaiah is ministering to God’s people in the aftermath of their rebelling against God, turning their backs on his goodness and grace, and seeking to live as their own gods and authorities. God’s people are wondering if God will drop the heavy hammer of justice and judgment upon them for their sin, disobedience, half-hearted worship, and repeated unfaithfulness. They have experienced the awesome power of God but are wondering if God can be both powerful and gentle.
In this world there are some things we experience as very powerful: A six and a half foot tall, 350 pound football player tackling another player; a weed eater; a chain saw; a megaphone. All very powerful. In this world there are also some things that we experience as very gentle: a ballerina on point; a whisper in our ears; a biologist dissecting a fruit fly under the microscope with tweezers. But we often wonder, can great power and great gentleness be combined?
God makes an astounding promise in Isaiah 42: “a bruised reed he will not break, a dimly smoldering wick he will not snuff out . . . he will faithfully bring forth justice.” God combines these two seemingly disparate realities in his saving, restoring grace: He is both powerful and gentle; He unites brute force and precise tenderness in order to rescue his people, making wrong things right once again.
Like an Olympic gymnast who is able to take explosive movements and harness them into a beautiful, delicate balance beam routine, God harnesses his saving power and expresses his strength in gentle, careful, and gracious help for broken and bruised and barely hanging-on people like you and me.
There is nothing so strong as God’s gentleness. There is nothing so gentle as God’s strength. He treads lightly, listens carefully, looks tenderly, and touches with warm grace our wounded and broken places. He is the strong and gentle savior of failures. He especially cherishes bruised reeds and almost snuffed flickers of life.
Bring your broken, bruised, and barely hanging-on life to Him today to experience his strong gentleness and gentle strength!