O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted
behold I will set your stones in antimony
and lay your foundations with sapphires
Isaiah 54:11 (ESV)
I stumbled across this verse this morning and was immediately struck by it. First of all, can we take a moment to talk about how God has such an incredible way with words. He would, I suppose, as he created them to begin with. The language of this verse is so poignantly deliberate about the worth that God places on his people. God hears the distress of those who love him, and he is aching with the intensity of the salvation that he is bringing to take that distress away.
The thing I kept coming back to was the phrase storm-tossed and not comforted. Storm-tossed. What an analogy. This isn’t wind-swept, an idea that is flushed an a little wild and maybe not perfect but better for it. Storm-tossed is the heartbreak in the eyes of a family that returns to the shards of their house after a tornado. This is the child who cannot cry because there is too much water already leaving lines above his growth calendar on the door frame. Storm-tossed is the shattered sound of a mother’s heart rending when she feels the gunshot that killed her son. The shaking of grief. The college student who has to fight with everything in her to conquer the smothering inability to swing her legs out of bed in the morning. It is the man who is exhausted and raw, the woman who is worn and haggard.
But God loves the storm-tossed. He promises to give them the strength to place one foot in front of the other, even when they are one moment away from collapse. He promises to give the courage to take that next step across the pavement. He promises to give peace to the storm-tossed, the security to fall onto him in total dependence. He promises to adorn them with the very best that heaven has to offer.
The verse talks about antimony. My Bible has a note about it, naming it as a mineral used to garnish stones. The Hebrew word is the same as the one for mascara or eye paint. Something beautiful. God will build a strong place of safety and adorn it with beauty. He promises not only the haven of stones and foundations, but also the lavish loveliness of joy. It may not be an immediate promise, but it is a promise nonetheless.
To you who are storm-tossed, know this: The storm will do as storms do and it will pass. It may be a long time coming. Storms leave damage and they don’t always wear themselves out quickly. They take time to recover from. But you are not alone, you are cared for, and God will set your foundations in sapphires.