“Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted,
I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise,
your foundations with lapis lazuli.” Isaiah 54:1
When I read this verse I immediately resonated with the affliction part of it, the storm lashes, the uncomforted state. I can attest to a season of feeling tossed and thrown about, consistently attempting to stay afloat, but feeling myself rapidly drowning. My frame feels more like straw and my foundation, sand, ready to dissolve with the next fateful gale.
To read that God not only plans to rebuild, but that he even sees our affliction is such a comfort. Even though we may feel alone, we’re not alone. He sees us, He knows us. He knows exactly where we are, what we are going through and He is with us in it. Even as we are tossed to and fro in the dark, cold, stormy places we can hope for Him to rebuild. But he’s not just rebuilding the same sand and straw structure, He’s transforming the structure with beautiful, costly precious stones.
Lapis Lazuli is not just an ordinary stone either, it’s a semi-precious metamorphic rock. A metamorphic rock is made from the transformation of existing rock types. Through a process of heat and pressure the original, ordinary rock undergoes a metamorphosis into a completely new and precious stone. This new stone, Lapis Lazuli, was prized from ancient history for it’s intense bright blue color. Important Renaissance artists ground it up into the most expensive and finest pigment and used it in their famous works of art.
The dictionary defines metamorphosis as “a change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one, by natural or supernatural means.” The suffering we go through– that heat, that pressure– it’s not in vain, it’s there for a specific purpose. We are undergoing a spiritual metamorphosis that’s necessary to transform us from our ordinary rocks into the precious gem God has created us to be. This crushing is bringing the power of God, His anointing in our lives.
As I think about it, I can’t help but be encouraged, not just by God’s phenomenal power to comfort and transform our lives, but because we can look at these trials and recognize that God is absolutely moving in our lives and He is preparing us for bigger things. He loves us too much to leave us alone, to leave us as we are. He has so much more in store for us.
Isaiah 54:2 says to “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes.” I actually like the New Living Translation which says,” Enlarge your house; build an addition. Spread out your home, and spare no expense!”
As we face the hard trials in our lives, instead of only seeing our inclement states and allowing them to beat us down, may we instead look expectantly to God? To look and to see opportunities to stretch out those curtains, lengthen our cords, and to strengthen our stakes? Are we cramped up in a pup tent when God wants us to move to a family-size tent? Possibly an army tent?
We can stretch, widen, and strengthen by digging deeper into God, His Word, and His family and seeing where we can let more of God and others in and where we can let go of more of this world and of our tiny visions and perspectives. God is not only the creator of pretty, shiny, blue precious stones, but he is the Creator of this vast Universe with magnificent, extraordinary, incomprehensible beauty.
It’s time we stop holding back. Stop holding back our courage, stop holding back our affections, stop holding back our talents, stop holding back our voices, stop holding back our energy, stop holding back our actions, stop holding back our hearts, and stop holding back our lives. It’s time we stop holing up and hiding out in our storms, but that we instead embrace the elements, stepping out into the rain with the umbrella of God’s grace, ready to make a splash for Jesus.