"Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug." - Isaiah 51: 2
The old coach had been invited to give the high school commencement speech. He approached the podium, looked out on the graduates and said slowly, "Never give up." He paused and cast his eyes over the students once more, then said, a second time, "Never give up." Another pause, another look, and for a third time, "Never give up." Then he turned and walked back to his seat.
Our times are such we may be tempted to give up. To give up on a nation so deeply polarized and divided. To give up on a democracy so vulnerable to manipulation of fear and by falsehood. To give on the hope of being and building a beloved community when bruised by acts and words of cruelty and callousness.
Isaiah's words in today's reading are a kind of, "Never give up."
The people to whom the prophet spoke had plenty of reason for discouragement, for giving up. They dwelt in exile in a foreign land — strangers in a strange land. Their beloved homeland was now a waste land.
But the word of God came: Never give up. "Look to the rock from which you were hewn." Remember who you are. "Look to Abraham your father and Sarah who bore you. He was but one when I called him, but I made him many." Never give up.
However discouraging the present moment, do not give up on our country, on our people. Do not give up on the church. And never give up on yourself. God isn't finished with you yet.
"For the Lord will comfort Zion, God will comfort all her waste places, and make her wilderness like Eden." Never give up.
"Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and voice of song." God never gives up.
Gracious God, we Americans have marked another 4th of July. We're concerned. Grant us sustaining hope, steady perseverance and deep faith for the living of these days. Amen.
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. His newest book is Called to Lead: Paul’s Letters to Timothy for a New Day. You can read Tony's "Weekly Meditation" and "What's Tony Thinking?" at his website, www.anthonybrobinson.com.