First Reading: Isaiah 50:4-7
Shame For Doing God's Will?
4 The Lord YHWH has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with words him who is weary: he wakens morning by morning, he wakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. 5 The Lord YHWH has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away backward. 6 I gave my back to the strikers, and my cheeks to those who plucked off the hair; I didn't hide my face from shame and spitting 7 For the Lord YHWH will help me; therefore I have not been confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be disappointed.
World English Bible
These brief words came from Second Isaiah, the unknown prophet who encouraged the despairing exiles in Babylon. Away from their homeland for so long, the exiles wallowed in gloom and self-pity. For the uprooted Jews in the foreign city, the idea of return must have seemed so distant. As distant as their God. Anyone who tried to tell the people different would be ridiculed, as a dreamer at best, as a cynic at worst.
Yet, God wanted this unknown author to spread the news of immanent release and return. Even if he faced the ire of the people. Despite their condemnation, he would not be shamed. For he did God's will.
Early Christians drew a parallel between the image found in these verses and the death of Jesus. Despite the humiliation of the people's condemnation, the honor of the accused would be vindicated. By God himself!
How do we sustain ourselves for doing good in the face of criticism? How can God help us in those times?