In Matthew 12:20 we read that: a bruised reed He will not break, and a smouldering wick He will not quench, while in Psalm 147:3 we read that: He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds, while in Psalm 51:17: the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Could anything be weaker or more pathetic than a damaged, crushed reed.. as its fragile, brittle stem bows its drooping head in the rushes? Even the lap of the river or brush of the wind could bring it to certain ruin. Or could there be a more feeble and useless than a smouldering wick.. as it takes its final flickering gasp before its last smoky spiral expires? Even the faintest breeze could extinguish its remaining smouldering smoke. What could demand less of our concern than such insignificant objects? What could engender more disinterest in our hearts than such mean things?
Yet Jesus says, The smoking flax I will not quench. The bruised reed I will not break. He places value on things that only command our disdain. How gentle is the Son of God toward those of us that are bruised reeds. How tender is our compassionate Lord to us who are failing, flickering flames. In Him is loving-kindness personified. In Him is the embodiment of compassion and mercy. We need never fear harsh treatment from Him or anticipate His cruel disregard. We need not be concerned that He would reject us or ignore us.
A strong brusque man can trample on the tender sensitivity of others.. and being devoid of gentleness can cause much pain. A weak, fearful man can engender little confidence in the hurting, injured wick.. and being bankrupt of strength leaves the bruised reed in a desolate limbo. But the Lord Jesus Christ possesses both strength and tenderness. He combines masculine power with feminine gentleness. He is strong and powerful, but He also has a profound understanding. He is competent and able, but He also displays a deep consideration. His actions towards the broken reed shows a strong understanding, His actions towards the smouldering wick show understanding-strength. Strength and consideration are blended and not separate. Power and tenderness are commingled and harmonised. Thus He truly can say: the smoking flax I will not quench. the bruised reed I will not break.
There is no one like the Lord Who can lift up the fallen and soothe the hurting. There is no one but Him that can heal the distressed and the broken-hearted. He is the only one that can bind up the wounded spirit and he is the only one who is able to comfort the rejected. He alone is able to understand the hurting soul.. for He was despised and rejected too. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Isaiah 53:3
The Lord is He that dwells on high. He it is that sits on the right hand of the Almighty. He rides on the wings of the wind and stretches out the heavens like a curtain. He holds the stars in their courses and fixes limits on the ocean’s tides. He is the Lord, the great and mighty God of the universe and yet He is meek and lowly, pure of heart and gentle of spirit.
He lifts the burden from the oppressed. He bestows His special cares upon the widow and orphan. He lifts up those that have slipped and fallen into the miry clay. He offers His sympathy to those that are sorrowful and distressed. He pours in oil and wine into the bruised reed and the smouldering flax.
Have you ever been deeply hurt by a precious friend or dearly loved one? I am sure there is none that has not been thus acutely grieved in the past.. or maybe you’re experiencing painful rejection or persecution in the present? It is one thing to receive such things from the hand of the enemy.. but as David, who paints a beautiful picture of Christ Himself, writes so articulately, yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, hath lifted up his heel against me. Psalm 41:9
Have we been guilty of inflicting such pain on friends or have we grieved loved ones? Have we been the recipient of such pain, or the target of a friend's accusation? Do we shrink back and lick our wounds and withdraw when we are thus hurt? Do we wash our hands and shift our ground to a more favourable, distant shore.. or do we recognise the responsibility that Christ laid to our charge - This is My body – broken for you.. we are His Body – to be broken for Him. 1Cor.11:24
We are to be His hands, in soothing the pain of another. We are to be His feet, that walks the second mile, the third mile, the fourth mile. We are to be His heart that loves unconditionally and forgives unreservedly. We are to be His eyes, that weep and His ears that listen. We are to reflect His love and forgiveness.. His gentleness and thoughtfulness. We are to lift the burden from a brother, bless an orphan, minister to a widow woman.
Take to heart this good advice from C.S. Lewis. He writes:- "As you and I look forward to the future, let us not be trapped by the heartache or our past or the brokenness of our present. May we always look to our future, having faith in the hand of our Father Who guides us. The next moment is as much beyond our grasp, and as much in God’s care, as that a hundred years away. Care for the next minute is just as foolish as care for a day in the next thousand years. In neither can we do anything, in both God is doing everything.”
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, Who inhabits eternity and Whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite. A bruised reed He will not break, and a faintly burning wick He will not snuff out.
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