Monday, February 16, 2009

More Words of Isaiah

My students often complain that Isaiah is too difficult to read. I agree that certain passages are difficult. I don’t understand it all, but there are so many wonderful things hidden away in Isaiah that it is worth plowing through it to find them. For example, In Isaiah 41:10 it says, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

The right hand is the covenant hand and so the Lord is telling us that when we are keeping the covenants He sustains us. The covenants we make with Him are binding and powerful! Because of those covenants, we don’t need to fear. We don’t need to get discouraged. We have a covenant with God, and therefore He is with us and will take care of us.

Finding passages such as these help us understand what the Lord meant when he said, “Search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah” (3 Nephi 23:1).


Wendi said...

I've always loved that verse. Thanks for sharing.

And, I'm sorry I've overloaded your inbox lately. I'm done now! :)

Sherrie Mills Johnson said...

Wendi, It is a great verse, isn't it. Thanks for the notes from the talks. That was kind of you.

Laresa said...

This is one of my favorite scriptures. If we would all remember to fear not.. and remember he is with us not matter what. Thanks for that great post and reminded me again of my favorite scripture.

Knowles Family said...

This scripture was a great way for me to start my day. I'm going to go re-read it right now and make sure I have it marked. Have a wonderful day!

Sherrie Mills Johnson said...

Laresa, It is very freeing to know we don't have to fear! Thanks for your comments. I love you!!!

Sherrie Mills Johnson said...

Knowles Family (Sorry! I know your name but I can't remember--I had brain surgery! How nice to have an excuse!!!) It was so good to hear from you again. Just reading the scripture makes you feel good, doesn't it! Especially if you read it out loud! These scriptures are wonderful.

Dave's Mom said...

This verse reminds me of the song taken from it..."How Firm A Foundation." One of my favorite memories of this song was leading a choir arrangement of it for stake conference 3 years ago with a combined choir of the two wards which share our building.

This particular day was memorable for me for several reasons. One was that I was leading the choir taught by my musical mentor, June Tompkins, (recently deceased) who had been the choir director in Manchester Ward for over 3 decades, and had been the one who taught me most of what I know about leading choirs. Her support and encouragement and acceptance of my efforts to lead our combined ward choirs was a positive affirmation for me.

The second reason was that my mother, who had just found out a few days before that her cancer had returned and that she would need additional chemotherapy, surprised me by joining the choir for our performance and singing her heart out.

We sang an arrangement by Ryan Taylor (available for free at He includes verses from the original song which are not usually sung, including these words:

"When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o'er-flow.
For I will be with thee, they troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress."

My mom and our family were about to go through the toughest trial we had ever faced. And yet here she was, singing out with all her heart with her beautiful high soprano voice, bearing testimony of the strength that the Savior would give us through that trial.

The song goes on with this verse:
"When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine."

I have thought often of those words and that promise in the ensuing dark times after her passing. I realize that the flames we have been passing through are there to refine us. Sometimes I want to plead - "Enough refinement already!"

Every January I subject my ward choir to my list of reflective melancholic songs - hymns like "Be Still My Soul" and "Does the Journey Seem Long?" I try to emphasize that the songs need to be sung with hope and not despair, with joy, and not like we are trudging through the mud, because Christ is the giver of all hope for our trials.

And I cannot sing the song "How Firm a Foundation" without wet eyes as I remember my mother's strong voice bearing testimony of the Savior's support:

"Fear Not, I am with thee; oh be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I'll strengthen thee, help thee and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand."

Thanks for letting me blog in your comment section.
Laura Gordon

Sherrie Mills Johnson said...

Laura, Thank you so much for all you added! This is beautiful. I only wish I'd heard about these extra verses earlier. We just had a Stake Women's conference and the theme was "Come Forth As Gold." This would have been a perfect song for the occassion.