This passage scares me.
Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him … .
A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
(Isaiah 42:1, 3.)
It comforts me, but it scares me.
These verses are a prophecy. They describe Jesus. And they describe me. I’m the bruised reed he promises not to break. I’m the smoldering wick he promises not to snuff out dead.
So what am I afraid of?
I’m afraid that there are bruised reeds and smoldering wicks around me that I might be breaking and snuffing out.
I’m afraid I might be doing it without realizing it – although sometimes I am actually quite aware – because I see others doing it to people and it looks like they don’t realize it either.
Oppressed people, people who suffer, those who are marginalized and unwelcome: these are the bruised reeds and smoldering wicks, and there are people who are supposed to care for them but who instead break their spirits and snuff out their hope.
I am afraid that there are times I do that too.
What about you? Are you the bruised reed or weakened flame? Jesus will never break you or snuff you out.
Or have you been breaking bruised reeds and snuffing out smoldering wicks? That’s not good, not good at all. But still there is good news for you. Jesus doesn’t consider you hopeless.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus … . (Romans 8:1.)
No condemnation means just that: none. This assurance is yours if you are in Christ Jesus. But that does not hand you a license to continue harming others. Nor me. Rather, I am compelled by the example of Jesus to be filled with sorrow. This too is good news because:
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (2 Corinthians 7:10.)
What is worldly sorrow? It is the sorrow I feel when I am sorry I got caught, or when I am sorry I hurt someone because it ended up affecting me negatively too. But godly sorrow is recognized by how it brings me to repent without regret for that repentance. It’s the sorrow that is prompted by the kindness of our heavenly Father. Or do you not know that:
God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? (Romans 2:4.)
Which brings me to this realization: I am glad to be a bruised reed. It reminds me how much I need the comfort of Jesus for my bruises and the kindness of Jesus for my repentance.