Isaiah 38:16-17 Lord, by such things men live;
and my spirit finds life in them too.
You restored me to health
and let me live.
Surely it was for my benefit
that I suffered such anguish.
The first thing that jumped out at me about this chapter was that Hezekiah, as faithful as he was, had little if any concept of resurrection and eternal life. Isaiah had received revelation of it, but either he didn’t understand it was for all believers or else he simply didn’t communicate it to others very well. The second thing that jumped out at me was in this specific passage, and that was the difficulties in translating from one language to another. In both Hebrew and Greek, the same word can mean “spirit” or “breath,” and that can make for all sorts of misunderstandings. “His spirit left him” and “His breath left him” both seem to point to death, but “He lost his breath” shouldn’t, at least in English. (Japanese makes the same distinctions between spirit and breath, by the way.) Here, the NIV speaks of “my spirit finds life,” but the Japanese speaks of “the life of my breath.” I often prefer this Japanese translation, but not here! Also, immediately following that, the Japanese has a request for health and life, while the NIV states that God has already granted them. Again, I like the NIV. However, the two translations come together for the first two lines of verse 17, and that’s the real point of this passage. God does not allow us to go through suffering that cannot be for our benefit, if we will accept it as such. Romans 8:28 is parroted by many, but with very little understanding of how true it is. The NIV says “for my benefit,” and the Japanese says, “for my inner peace.” (That makes it clear the original uses shalom, which seems to have much the same meaning in Hebrew as aloha does in Hawaiian.) However you translate it, those who have gone through suffering in faith often have a level of peace that can’t be achieved any other way. It is a total release of everything into God’s hands, trusting Him to do the right thing with it all, whatever that is. That is valuable indeed!
I don’t think I’ve experienced that level of suffering yet! That said, I do continue to grow in releasing things to God rather than trying to carry them myself, whether they are physical or emotional. I am personally in rather remarkably good health for my age. We had a bit of a scare the past few days with chest pain, but a visit to a cardiologist confirmed that it was muscular (from too much work with a chain saw) rather than heart-related. However, there are all sorts of emotional stresses on me, and some of them can be quite trying. As I learn to release everything to God I will receive and experience more of the peace that I know He has for me, so that I may in turn be an open channel of that peace to those around me. Yesterday had a series of things that, added up, really drained me, even though each individually would have been no big deal. I need to grow in immediately releasing things to God, rather than allowing them to linger, so that I may have the emotional stability I need to bless those around me.
Father, thank You for all that You allow me to experience, to grow and train me in the likeness of Your Son. (Romans 8:29) May I be Your agent in every area of my life, speaking Your words and doing Your will in Your way, so that people may know that You are holy and that You love them, so that they may repent and believe, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!