Precious, Honored, and Loved
1But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 2When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. 3For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…. 4You are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.
There was an opinion piece in the paper the other day, written by a seminary professor who has been living with stage IV colon cancer for years. After detailing all the ways that people and what they say are not helpful, she concludes with this: “There is a tremendous power in touch, in gifts, and in affirmations, when everything you knew about yourself might not be true anymore…. A friend knits me socks and another drops off cookies, and still another writes a funny email or takes me to a concert. These seemingly small efforts are anchors that hold me to the present, that keep me from floating away on thoughts of an unknown future. They say to me, like my sister did on one very bad day: ‘Yes, the world is changed, dear heart, but do not be afraid. You are loved, you are loved. You will not disappear: I am here.’” When I read that, I thought immediately about our passage for today, in which Isaiah quotes this word from the Lord: “You are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.” And then, verse 5, “Do not fear, for I am with you.” What a powerful affirmation that is. That’s grace: “Love working in the face of everything which appears to render it impossible.” And as our bumper sticker says, “Grace happens!” You can take that to the bank. You can depend on it. “You are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.” What more do we need in the way of assurance of our worth and dignity as human beings?
Keep us focused on your claim on our lives—that we belong to you, that we are precious, and honored, and loved. Let this become our mantra, our motto, our default position, for that’s who we are, by the grace of God. Amen.