…for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.
We live and experience life in a series of ups and downs that fall on a timeline, and each of us has times in our lives that make us wonder: “God, where are you?”
God’s there. I promise, God’s there with you in those moments where God couldn’t seem farther away. As people who view time as a linear series of events, it’s difficult to imagine a God who works in those moments but is not bound by them. Yes, God is with us in the moment, but God is also before us, after us, behind us, above us, and all around us. We are firmly grounded in God’s presence.
Mind blown. I could stop there. Devotional done. Mic drop.
But the true magic of any verse lies in its context.
Reading the rest of Chapter 52, we discover that God is not just managing our struggles as we stumble into them. They are part of a journey toward redemption and abundance.
Isaiah 52 is a call to rise and reclaim glory. But after 11 verses extolling the revival of Zion, the scripture takes a subtle turn: “the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” A rear guard is comprised of the soldiers at the rear of a body of troops, especially to protect an army in retreat. This does not sound promising.
This chapter of restoration and glory is undergirded by conflict and suffering. God is redeeming you, but you’ll likely engage in some spiritual warfare in the redemptive process. God knows that you’ve suffered, but God’s persistent presence with you does not allow suffering to have the last word.
Our suffering is not in vain. It is part of the path that leads us to God’s glory – and we will be brought out of it.
God has planned a glorious future for the restoration of humanity. And there will be struggles along the way, but God has already seen them and is here in the present to guide us through them, and God will stay behind to keep them in the past.
As life moves along a linear timeline, a boundless, timeless God is taking care of it all for our sake, for our complete redemption.
Father. Thank you for the magic of your timelessness. Thank you for the fact that in my darkest moments, I can know that you have already planned my path back to the light, and that you will be guarding my retreat from the darkness. Thank you for the glorious future that awaits me. God, I wish it didn’t have to include the suffering it has and will, but I trust that you know what you’re doing. Thank you for being my rear guard, the force to protect me in my most vulnerable moments. Thank you. Amen.