Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from afar;
The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.
And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me;
And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.
[Isaiah 49:1-3 KJV]
A story from South-Eastern Australia suggests that a once thriving bird, the Regent Honeyeater — now fewer than 300 in number — is losing the ability to sing. "They don't get the chance to hang around with other honeyeaters and learn what they're supposed to sound like," explained Dr Ross Crates, a member of the Difficult Bird Research Group at the Australian National University in Canberra. He is now trying to preserve the birds' song by teaching captive Honeyeaters the songs of their wild relatives.
John Donne, in his Devotions (1624) famously said “No man is an Island, entire of it self; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main.” Not one of us can survive without our fellows around us; even if — like myself — you can be fairly happy for periods of isolation. Too much of oneself distorts the mind; we lose our mental balance ... and it seems, the ability to communicate effectively.
For some of us, it is a refusal to listen which causes a problem. Isaiah tells us that The Lord has given him the words to speak, and has honed him to effectively communicate His truth, but the prophet is concerned that it is all in vain, and that he has been ineffective. Is anyone listening? As the chapter progresses, Isaiah hears the Lord speak to him, and reassures him that ‘In an acceptable time I have heard You, and in the day of salvation I have helped You;’ [Isaiah 49:8a KJV]. In telling this, Isaiah reveals that we are in constant need of comfort and the only true source of that is The Lord, and significantly, we see that, in The Lord’s eyes, we are not a collection of disparate individuals. We are ‘His people’; a gathering; a remnant; captives of Jesus Christ, and we are meant to relate to one another as ‘His people’. Isaiah reveals that The Holy Spirit is teaching us to hear His voice and to sing songs of praise, lest — in isolation — we forget how.
Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people, and will have mercy on His afflicted. [Isaiah 49:13 NKJV]
h0339. אִי ’îy; from 183; properly, a habitable spot (as desirable); dry land, a coast, an island: — country, isle, island.
The world, the flesh and the devil will put imaginary grief in your way just when Jesus Christ is wanting you to enter into fellowship with His sufferings.
GEORGE and GILL STEWART