Scripture Focus: Isaiah 25.4-5
4 You have been a refuge for the poor,
     a refuge for the needy in their distress,
 a shelter from the storm
     and a shade from the heat.
 For the breath of the ruthless
     is like a storm driving against a wall
 5     and like the heat of the desert.
 You silence the uproar of foreigners;
     as heat is reduced by the shadow of a cloud,
     so the song of the ruthless is stilled.

Reflection: Clouds for Scorching Days
By Erin Newton

Summers in Texas are like sticking your face in an oven. July and August are our prime summer heat waves where the sun immediately bakes your skin.

Years ago, I spent a few weeks in Venezuela during a particularly warm summer. The heat radiated in the cloudless sky. I remember praying, “Dear God, send a cloud.” Intense heat can bring out the simplest of prayers.

Isaiah compares the suffering of the poor and needy to those who suffer under the scorching heat of the sun or the abrasive torrents of a storm. The “ruthless” beat against them like “a storm driving against a wall.”

It is a picture of oppression that is inescapable, too powerful to overcome, sapping all energy and life. People fight against the winds of the storm to no avail. It pushes them back against a wall. I imagine scenes of people desperately clinging to branches as the wind threatens to carry them away. I imagine scenes of sojourners in the desert, lips cracked and yearning for a drop of water. Isaiah shows the poor and needy in the deepest pit of their despair.

But God is their refuge. He is the “shelter from the storm” and the “shade from the heat.” Notice the rescue from God is not plucking them from this earth. They are not removed from living in the world. They are not suddenly transported to a paradise where nothing bad happens. They continue living in a world where oppression, persecution, and suffering threaten their existence.  
God provides a respite for their suffering. Within the dome of scorching heat—God sends a cloud. Under the deafening roar of the storm—God blunts the shrill winds.

Why do you think God does not eliminate the threat completely? I wish he would. I have been in the storm, and I have endured the blaze of suffering. Trials of great intensity wear down our energy physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Under the clamor of life’s storms, we barely utter a prayer, “Dear God, help me.”

God sends us clouds and calms the winds. He is our refuge in life—but refuges are just temporary inns for respite. I want a permanent abode, far away.

“He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces.”

Clouds and calm do we have now. Tearless eyes and eternal life shall we gain in Him.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Protect my life and deliver me; let me not be put to shame, for I have trusted in you. — Psalm 25.19

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

​Today’s Readings
Isaiah 25 (Listen 1:59)
Acts 12 (Listen 3:49)

Read more about The Broken Power of Death
Death is not the worst thing that can happen to us and it does not have the final word in our lives but that does not mean we should not grieve it.

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