Lord, be gracious to us;
we long for you.
Be our strength every morning,
our salvation in time of distress.
At the uproar of your army, the peoples flee;
when you rise up, the nations scatter.
Your plunder, O nations, is harvested as by young locusts;
like a swarm of locusts people pounce on it.
The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high;
he will fill Zion with his justice and righteousness.
He will be the sure foundation for your times,
a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;
the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Most of the book Isaiah is about the suffering and destruction of the Israelites because they turned from God. Isaiah 33 and the preceding chapters are especially focused on the hardships they suffer because of their disobedience. In this chapter, Isaiah prophesizes that the Israelites will be destroyed and betrayed, brave men will cry in the streets, no one will be respected, the land will dry up, and there will be everlasting burning. The chapter continues on like this listing numerous other miseries that the Israelites with undergo because they disobeyed God.
But amongst these passages of destruction and death there is Isaiah 33:2-6, a prayer of God’s people exalting Him and crying out to Him to be their strength. Even at this time of complete devastation there were people who turned their eyes to God and cried out to Him. They didn’t turn from Him or blame Him for their distress; instead they ask Him to be their salvation and strength. They had been brought low, so they rightfully put God up high. Despite their circumstances they trusted God would fill Zion with his justice and righteousness, be the sure foundation, and be a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge.
Although it’s been a long time since Isaiah was written there are many similarities between then and now. As believers the Bible assures us that, like the Israelites of Isaiah’s time, we will suffer. Because we are not yet completely free from our bondage and decay, we must wait groaning in the pains of childbirth for the redemption of our bodies and the freedom and glory of the children of God.
However, despite our present suffering, like some of the Israelites did in Isaiah 33:2-6, we should turn our focus to God and trust in the promises He gave us. Our present suffering doesn’t compare to what we will be revealed. We have been assured that if we love God, God works together everything, even the most challenging things and the ones that hurt the most, for our good. So we can still praise God when we suffer. We can always exalt His name.