September 21, 2020

The Quiet Peacemaker

Isaiah 42:1-4

“He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets.”

—  Isaiah 42:2

One of the first impulses that a young toddler learns is to react with anger to a perceived injustice. “Not fair!” the child will yell, “That’s mine!” After attempting to calm down the frustrated child, the parent will often say, “You need to share. You’ve played with that for a long time. Now let someone else have a turn.”

The parent is giving the child a lesson in dying to live, giving something up in order to live life to the full. But that’s not all. The child is also being taught that it’s easy to react to a perceived wrong with an angry tantrum, but it’s wiser to navigate life as one who does not “shout or cry out.”

This passage in Isaiah is describing the wisdom of the quiet­ness of Jesus’ ministry.

In the past several years, the world seems to have become a noisier, angrier place. The anonymity of social media, increasing anxiety about a world whose problems seem out of control, and a great deal of changes in shared values have combined to generate a lot of heat and not much light. A few years ago I wrote a gentle op-ed for a newspaper, describing what it meant for me to be a Christ-follower today, and the hatred that followed in online comments was overwhelming.

That kind of response makes me want to shout, but when I remember the attitude of Jesus described here in Isaiah, I realize that that urge needs to die. It’s better to act in a way that leads to restoring life.

Quiet the noise inside me, Lord, that I may follow you with the day-to-day faithfulness of your Son, the Servant. Amen.

About the author — Syd Hielema

Syd Hielema serves the Christian Reformed Church in North America as director of a ministry project called Connections II. He has also served with Faith Formation Ministries, as a professor of theology and youth ministry at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa, and as a chaplain and professor at Redeemer University in Ancaster, Ontario. Syd has been married to Evelyn for 43 years, and they enjoy bird watching near their home in Ancaster.

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