For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reading through the book of Isaiah in my daily devotions. More like slogging through, if I’m honest. The first twenty-four chapters have been slow going. One disaster after another. One gnarly, disobedient nation after another. Many mornings my reading has tired rather than inspired me. This first section of Isaiah has felt like a lot of bad news in the midst of a cultural moment of more bad news.
The other morning, I sat down like always and opened to chapter 25. I hadn’t been looking up or forward. I hadn’t really been paying attention, I guess. More just plodding along. A long obedience in the same direction. All of a sudden, the words were standing in my path — the ones we read at Rob’s funeral services, the verses that have become my lifeline, my anthem, my fierce profession of hope. I turned a corner and there they were, demanding to be seen again.
On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine–
the best of meats and the finest of wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken.
In that day they will say,
“Surely this is our God;
we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the Lord, we trusted in him;
let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”
In that day. I can’t type those words without the tears welling up. For the last eight months, I have clung to the promise in those three small words. Those words have gotten me out of bed. They have compelled me to keep going for myself, for my children. They have been the solitary light in the darkness of my grief. This sorrow, this loneliness, this searing ache. This life is not all there is. I can hope for more.
In that day, all the pain and anguish of this grief will vanish.
In that day, the one I love most will be raised incorruptible.
In that day, we will rejoice together in the reunion of saints, the beautiful New Jerusalem.
In that day, I will proclaim in consummated rest, “This is my God. I trusted him, and he saved me.”
I cannot smile my way through sorrow. I cannot pull myself out of despair by my own bootstraps and optimism. Inspirational quotes and pat answers won’t sustain me in mourning. Because grief cuts deep. Deeper than any of these salves can penetrate. Grief gnaws with a hunger that pablum will not satisfy. The power of death really is that strong. But, In that day? Those words are power and promise and peace. They are spoken by God Almighty — and I know Him and He knows me. He speaks those words of promise over my broken heart. I can take those words to the bank.
In 2002, I walked down the aisle to the hymn “Jerusalem the Golden” as I became Rob’s wife. I know not, O I know not, what joys await us there; what radiancy of glory, what bliss beyond compare. For almost twenty years, Rob and I shared a unique mutual longing for that day which Isaiah foretold. We prayed for it and wanted it so much together. Though we are now apart, I know that shared longing remains. With all of creation, he and I wait in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed, for all to be made new, for God’s promises to be fulfilled. And someday — in that day, together again— Rob and I will rejoice and be glad in his salvation. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.