A massive stroke. A profound birth defect. A house fire.
We don’t expect such things to happen to us. They sound to us like the end of hope, a devastating derailment of our dreams.
Isaiah’s picture of the “stump of Jesse” captures the end-of-hope feeling. The glorious kingdom of David and Solomon was smashed into rubble and the people driven out with just a stump to mark the spot. Israel’s conquest and captivity appeared to be the unthinkable finale to happiness.
The imagery of the stump of Jesse could also symbolize earthly life when a person experiences something so terrible that every expectation of joy is erased. A productive career is cut short. The joy of childhood energy is stilled. Resources for old age are gone in an instant. We stare at the stump of what once was our lives, and we are stunned.
Special Ministries exists because the stump is not the end of the story for Christians. Isaiah prophesied, “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” The stump is not where life ends; it is the beginning of his rescue. From that wrecked kingdom Christ came to seek and to save the lost.
In our darkest hour, our hope remains in God. Jesus told his disciples a man’s blindness would be an occasion to display what the Lord can do (John 9:3). Hope in the Lord drives Special Ministries’ work. Whether you have a disability or a struggle, whether your life has hit a wall or seems to have lost its purpose, we know the God who rescues. The Lord who caused a shoot to grow out of the stump of Jesse has a glorious eternal plan for you.
The Savior healed the deaf and blind as well as restoring hope to sinners shattered by shame. That’s not a coincidence. His mission ultimately delivers not only from damnation but also from the effects of this fallen world. Those who cannot physically hear the gospel now, already hear his voice. The blind see their Savior already in his Word. Neither trauma nor abuse can stop his healing love. The Branch is already bearing fruit and we see it in Special Ministries. The stump is not the end of the story, it’s the place where hope springs up. See Special Ministries’ information online for resources and guidance when you or someone you know is stumped!
Jim Behringer, director, WELS Special Ministries
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