August 29, 2023 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — Isaiah 41:14 (NRSV)
Do not fear, you worm Jacob,
you maggot Israel!
I will help you, says the LORD;
your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
As the Israelites were threatened and oppressed by the powerful nations in the Ancient Near East, they felt like a “worm” . . . small, helpless, vulnerable, powerless. But their “wormishness” was an opportunity for them to experience the presence and power of God, who was there to help. So it is with us. When we feel weak and vulnerable, we are ready to draw near to God so that we might experience God’s strength and protection.
As the children of Israel were buffeted about by the powerful nations in the Ancient Near East, they must have sometimes felt like “a worm.” This image conjures up a sense of smallness, powerlessness, and vulnerability. Worms can’t fight back. And they are easily crushed.
Yet God offered reassurance to Israel. Though they may have felt like a mere worm, the Lord was there to help them. God would redeem the people of God—bringing them back to their homeland, protecting them, and blessing them with the divine presence.
You might know what it feels like to be a “worm.” Most of us do. Perhaps it happens at work when your boss treats you like a tool rather than a person. Or maybe it’s when you see your savings slip away through medical bills or bad investments and you realize you can’t do anything to stop it. Or perhaps you feel like a worm in your family relationships. Even if you’re a boss, you might feel like a worm when your boss is unreasonable or when situations beyond your control make your work painfully difficult. No matter the situation, God’s promise to Jacob is true for you and for me. God is with us to help us.
I’m reminded of what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12 when talking about the “thorn” in his “flesh” that tormented him (2 Corinthians 12:7). When he asked God to take it from him, God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (12:9). This taught Paul a profound truth: “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (12:10). So, when you feel like a weak worm, you are in a prime position to experience the strength and protection of God.
Though we are weak, God is strong beyond all measure. There is no situation from which God will not redeem us. Thus, we can have confidence in God and receive the gift of divine peace, even when we are weak and waiting. Let your “wormishness” be an occasion for drawing near to the grace and power of God.
When have you felt like a worm?
What difference did God make in that time?
Have you ever experienced the peace that comes from knowing God is with you when you feel small and powerless?
Talk with a wise friend or your small group about your experiences of “wormishness” and how this made a difference in your relationship with God.
Gracious God, Mighty God, how I thank you for being there to help me, especially when I am weak. Sometimes I feel like a worm, Lord. And that’s not altogether silly, because I am weak and vulnerable. How great it is to know that you are there to help me.
O Lord, how I praise you for being my Redeemer. You have delivered me from so many messes, from chaos and heartache. More importantly, you have redeemed me from my bondage to sin and death. Through Christ, you have set me free to know the fullness of life. How grateful I am to you, my Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer! Amen.
Banner image by Miriam G on Unsplash.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project’s online commentary. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Assessing Performance (2 Corinthians 10–13).
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.