“Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you,” declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. NIV
When I first read this verse a couple of days ago, I didn’t want to tackle it. So, I worked my way through this chapter for the last two days, right up to the point of this verse. But now, here I am … God calls Israel a worm.
This morning, I thought, “maybe I’m not reading it right … maybe there are other things that ‘worm'” could mean beyond fish bait.” So, I went to the Hebrew dictionary in my concordance. Turns out, this word can mean worm, or even worse, maggot, or scarlet thread.
So, then I went to The Message, honestly, in hopes that the translator had chosen “scarlet thread.” But, that’s not the case. However, the translation was much more encouraging and easier to assimilate. “Do you feel like a lowly worm, Jacob? Don’t be afraid. Feel like a fragile insect, Israel? I’ll help you. I, God, want to reassure you. The God who buys you back, The Holy One of Israel.” MSG
Now, the question is, why am I feeling the way I am feeling about being called a worm?
The answer is pride.
I don’t want to think of myself as a worm, and I don’t want God to see me that way, but, if I am completely honest with myself, I can see that I am just as helpless as a worm apart from God. I cannot save myself, I have no control over my own destiny, and I am at the mercy of my surroundings. Granted, there is little chance that some ghastly oversized robin will swoop down and carry me back to his nest for dinner, but, in abstract terms, there are many other things that could have just that devastating effect on my life here.
When I adopt this perspective, I can see the incredible encouragement that this verse holds. God cares for me, He redeemed me, He has plans for me … what a miracle that is!
For the last several days, we’ve had gorgeous weather and I’ve been working in a part of my yard that has been a bit overgrown. As I was weeding, I noticed a real dearth of earthworms, and that the soil had become compacted. I’ve been planning a trip to the bait shop to buy a box of earthworms. I did this before in another bed, and it worked beautifully. I brought the box of worms home, dumped them in a shady spot under an azalea, and released them to a seemingly happy future of digging and eating and eliminating waste — which will improve my garden — and making other little worms to do the same.
But for my buying them, that box of worms would have ended up being threaded, one by one, onto fish hooks (which I have to believe is a painful experience) and being lowered into a lake or a river only to be eaten by a fish.
Now that they and their family live in my garden, bad things might still befall them … one or two of them get carried off every day by a bird … sometimes when I’m putting in a new plant I slice one with my shovel, but, their existence is worlds better than it would have been without my intervention.
It strikes me that, as a Christian, I am exactly like one of the worms in that box. God redeemed me, at a price much higher than the $6.44 I paid for the 15 worms I bought. And, as a result, my future is infinitely brighter than the underside of that azalea.
That’s what I’ll think about today.