“Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made,” Isaiah 43:7. God is Elohim, Creator. He made man in his image and for his glory.
As I studied God’s name Elohim this last week, all I could think was, why do I care about God’s glory when his road is marked with so much suffering?
What if I want my own glory?
I started journaling some prayers and poured over the words of Isaiah. I was reminded of one of my favorite verses, “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols,” (Isaiah 42:8).
I’ve lived for my own glory. I’ve lived for the idols of affirmation and applause. And they did not measure up. Even when the attention came, it was so fleeting and so unsatisfying. The ground I walked on was unsteady and unsure, and I was so unhappy.
But when I surrendered the praise to the One whom glory is due, the One whom I was created to bring glory to, it unearthed a joy, a freedom and a stability I never would have believed possible, entirely independent of my circumstances.
While I don’t have an answer for all the suffering and injustice in this world, what I do have is something that every one of us can count on: God’s promises.
For Isaiah also says, “I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand,” (Isaiah 41:9-10).
God promises to be with us. He promises to strengthen us. He promises to help us.
And we can count on his promises because of Jesus. He took our place.
While Jesus hung on the cross, he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). God the Father, Creator Elohim, abandoned his son in place of abandoning his creation. So “all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” (John 1:12).
When we choose to put our faith in Jesus, his punishment on the cross counts for us. And because God is just, he will not punish us again.
Suffering is not punishment. It is an opportunity to display God’s glory, the glory we were made to bear.
My glory is temporary and unsatisfying. And earthly suffering is temporary, too. It is temporary, and it is purposeful. When we live for the glory of our Creator Elohim, the God who formed us and made us, the glory will be beautiful, and it will last forever. And we will not walk through any of it alone.
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:17-18
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or face – kept in heaven for you… now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold… may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 1:3-7
“But now, this is what the Lord says – he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mind. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.’”
Read: Isaiah – all of it, the whole book is so beautiful. Specifically, you can pour over chapters 40-43. What is God showing you about what you were created for? What words or concepts do you see repeated? What is God showing you about his name Elohim?
In a summary I wrote on this name of God years ago, I said:
We can love ourselves because God created us purposefully. Are we going to criticize his work? He does not make mistakes.
Maybe you can’t even think about bringing glory to God, because you don’t believe that you have any purpose. What do the words of Isaiah teach instead?
Read Ephesians 1:3-14 and 1 Peter 2:9-10. What does God say is true about you? Spend some time in prayer over these verses.
What about discipline? Doesn’t God discipline those he loves? (Hebrews 12:6) I found this article to be super insightful on the Biblical difference between punishment and discipline.