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A Bruised Reed He Will Not Break

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. His name will be the hope of all the world. Isaiah 42:3-4 (NIV and NLT)

These are comforting words about God’s servant’s compassion and gentleness. He looks after delicate things and will not act harshly towards us. And he will not tire until the whole world hopes in him. I wonder if there is more to these verses though?

A bruised reed and a smouldering wick are indeed fragile things but for very different reasons. 

A bruised reed is damaged but not broken, it has been battered and hurt but it is not beyond saving. For a reed to become like this it must have been acted upon by an external force. A reed does not grow bruised, it can’t decide to become bruised, something must happen to it for it to become bruised. It may be strong wind, passing animals or a clumsy boot stepping on it. If the external force continues without intervention the end result will be destruction. So for a bruised reed to not be broken, careful and delicate handling is important, and not just that but protection from external forces.

If these verses are about Jesus looking after us how can we be like the bruised reed? Maybe great evil has happened to us, leaving us bruised and fragile. Maybe we have been damaged by hurtful words or actions. Maybe the storms of life in all its chaos have left us dented, battered and hanging on by a thread. These verses promise us that Jesus will not break a bruised reed; he will deal with us tenderly and protect us from the external forces that have left us so bruised. 

There may be another way to feel like a bruised reed. Maybe the weight of our sin is hanging heavy on our hearts and is causing us to feel bruised. Maybe the conviction of wrongdoing is causing us to feel battered by all that we have done, and we question if God could ever cover us with his grace. If you are hanging your head in shame under the weight of sin know that Jesus will not break a bruised reed! Jesus hung on the cross so we didn’t have to. He has forgiven you so you don’t have to feel the bruising of shame and sin any more. He will tenderly nurse you back to health and continue to forgive you. 

Read the second part of this reflection HERE

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