Seeking peace in a hostile environment

“No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me, declares the LORD. “(Isaiah 54:17 )

Have you ever been in a peculiar mood and frame of mind, and have a verse strike you a certain way? I was in a sardonic mood, sort of ‘bummed out’ on several levels, and when I read this verse I had to wonder, what if you are being your own worst enemy? That is, what if you are turning in on yourself and using criticism, critique, and self-deprecation against yourself? If you are the “weapon” and “refuting tongue”? It is interesting to think of the Lord protecting a person from themselves.

Keeping the same theme of conversation of the past few days where we are looking at how the Mennonite profile fits this, we are pretty good at critiquing themselves. It is sort of a ‘parlor game’ played out in some sanctuaries; who can reveal themselves to be the worst sort of sinner and therefore in the most need of God’s redeeming grace. To put it succinctly, Mennonites do very good guilt trips.

Now to be fair the writer of Isaiah in verses fifteen and sixteen has been very clear as to the type of weapon, and who is and is not wielding it: “If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing; whoever attacks you will surrender to you. “See, it is I who created the blacksmith who fans the coals into flame and forges a weapon fit for its work. And it is I who have created the destroyer to work havoc.” God says then that the chosen people will be safe from attack and will not be injured. God has created punishment, but God’s punishment will not be brought against the servants of the Lord.

So I am definitely taking liberties with the verse, and applying it in ways that it was not meant to be applied. And if a person is their own worst enemy, perhaps that means that they (either self as accuser or self as victim) are NOT a servant of the Lord. And if I draw out the analogy just a bit, any one who wields such a weapon against another is NOT a servant of God or from God.

But if that is so, does that mean we are still protected from those who are armed with weapons forged apart from God and who aside from God’s directions set out to attack us? It occurs to me that this line of inquiry highlights the need to know how “prevail” and “refute” are defined.

But when it comes right down to it, we all want and desire peace; peace in our world, peace in our lives, and peace in our minds. The disruptions of peace outside of ourselves and within our selves can be equally devastating. Our hope, according to the writer of Isaiah is that God will not allow us to be hurt; or at least that is the promise given. “Prevailing” and “refuting” may be, as are so many things, relative. Maintaining a hope of peace is not easy, especially when the world and one’s self are set against you. May you, gentle reader, have the resiliency that God promises. Selah!