The readings of Isaiah are so moving during Advent, calling us to consider our relationship with God in new ways. Isaiah invites us to consider a relationship with God on a very deep and personal level, to feel comforted, loved and protected. Isaiah offers us a God who rejoices in us and celebrates us with banquets of rich wines and choice food. There is a constant exhortation not to be afraid. “Fear not, I will help you.” (Isaiah 41: 13).
I have read these words every Advent for years, and focused on the words, “Fear not.” But one morning as I looked at this passage, I noticed the beginning of it: “I am the Lord, your God who grasp your right hand.” It was fairly specific. Not that I was reaching out to God, but that God was reaching out to me – and grasping me by my right hand. How wonderful. I relaxed into that image and tried to picture that. What would it be like to have God hold my right hand? Terrible! I couldn’t do anything! I am right-handed and if God is holding onto it, how would I get all of my things done? I am a busy, busy person (sometimes so busy that I am coming and going at the same time). With my right hand un-usable, I couldn’t drive, use the computer or grab my mobile phone. If I really ponder the image of the Lord grasping my right hand, it takes me several minutes to get beyond, “I can’t get anything done!”
Then I pause in my mental distress and hold this dilemma up to God as an offering: “What now, God?” I am the LORD, your God, who grasp your right hand… I will help you.” I can see that the passage means that I can’t do it all alone. I am strong, busy, independent and apparently somewhat arrogant. I want to do it all myself. How do I share my life and work with a God who at the moment seems to be hampering my progress?
That’s where the Isaiah reading adds, “It is I who say to you, ’Fear not, I will help you.” I really, really don’t have to do it alone. I can step off my self-imposed pedestal and join the rest of the human race in asking for help. I can ask God every morning to open my heart in new ways for the freedom to accept what God wants for me – not what I want for me. I can realize that God stands ready, cherishing me every moment, holding my hand and offering me a banquet.
I am the LORD, your God, who grasp your right hand;
It is I who say to you, “Fear not, I will help you.”
Maureen M Waldren, Online Ministries of Creighton University USA