The Best Kind of Savior

My time of prayer began today with a verse from Isaiah. Right there, on the very first card I saw, was one of my favorite texts. The Lord speaks to his people and assures them, “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25). God looks at his sinning, sinful people, reminds them that they are his, and assures them that he loves and longs to extend his mercy to them.

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This is the best kind of God—the best kind of Savior. He is a God who acknowledges all that is wrong about us, and is both willing and able to do something about it.

Imagine the God who is able to do something about our sin, but unwilling. He could blot out our transgressions—he knows how it can be possible and he has the ability to make it happen. But he has chosen not to, and all of humanity will be lost. That is a God of pure and utter justice, perhaps. That is a God who treats us exactly as our sins deserve and who gives no less and no more. But that is a God who proves he has no capacity to display love and mercy, or perhaps just has no desire to display love and mercy. That is not our God. “Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you…” (43:2).

Imagine the God who is willing to do something about our sin but unable. He loves his people and longs to blot out their sin and remember those sins no more. But he can’t. He doesn’t know how or he doesn’t have the ability. His justice far exceeds his mercy or his desires far exceed his abilities. His longings go unfulfilled because there is no possible way for him to reconcile himself to sinful humanity. That, too, is a God of justice, but a God of hopeless and helpless justice, whose love goes unrequited and,  who for all of eternity, will be unable to love and be loved. That is not our God. “I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior. …
I declared and saved and proclaimed…” (43:11-12).

But our God is able to save. Our God is willing to save. And so he assures his people, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (43:1-3). That is our God.

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