Are You A Bruised Reed? Weak, Weary, Faint Hearted? Good News!

Do you feel like a bruised reed?

Are you depressed, discouraged? Do you feel like giving up? Do you feel weak? Or like a failure? Do you feel beat up by life? Or do you feel like a spiritual loser? Defeated by your sins? Discouraged by how often you have failed?

Well, God has good news for you. If you believe in Jesus and have turned to him with all your heart, he is waiting and longing to lift you up. To help you. To give you victory and joy in life. Isaiah 42 tells us this about Jesus:

Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law. Isaiah 42:1-4

Isaiah 42 is a prophetic passage about the coming Messiah. When Isaiah gave this prophecy, Israel was still in captivity to Babylon, and probably had been for a long time. When Isaiah gave this word it may have been near the end of their 70 years of bondage.

Can you imagine how discouraged and hopeless God’s people must have felt? They were certainly “a bruised reed.” They may have felt like their faith in God was like “a faintly burning wick.”

But God said that things were going to change for Israel. He would send the Messiah, not to punish them more, but to deliver them and establish them in him.

We know that the Messiah was Jesus Christ. Look how God describes him.

Jesus Came As A Servant

Behold my servant, whom I uphold,my chosen, in whom my soul delights; (1)

The King of the Universe wasn’t born into wealth and riches. He didn’t come with pomp and mighty armies. He was born a helpless baby in a stable. He himself said that he came to be a humble servant.

You might say that Jesus himself knows what it is like to be a bruised reed. He didn’t come in strength. He came in weakness. As a lowly servant.

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

Amazing! The Creator of the Universe came as a servant. And although he is on heaven’s throne he still cares for us and serves us. He lives to intercede for us. He waits to help us. He urges us to cast our cares upon him. He is our Helper.

Jesus gave his very life for you. He will certainly help you and lift you up and strengthen you. He will establish you in him and give you victory. He longs for these things more than you do. Even if you feel like a bruised reed, broken and weary, Jesus will strengthen you.

Jesus Was Filled With God’s Spirit and Will Fill You With His Spirit

I have put my Spirit upon him; (1)

And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. John 1:32

Jesus fills his people with the very Spirit of God who filled him. The Holy Spirit gives us power and strength in our weakness. The Holy Spirit teaches us, speaks to us and guides us:

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. John 14:26

We are weak, but God the Holy Spirit strengthens us and intercedes for us. Not only does Jesus intercede for us, but so does the Holy Spirit. Wow! God himself praying for us weaklings. Let that encourage you, even if you feel like a bruised reed.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26

The Holy Spirit produces fruit and character in us. We don’t do it in our own strength; God does it! Trust him! Ask him to help you love others. Ask him for joy and peace. Ask him to help you be faithful. God the Holy Spirit will change you.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

A Bruised Reed He Will Not Break – Our Savior Is So Gentle!

He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,or make it heard in the street; (2)

Bible scholar Albert Barnes says this means:

He shall not use loud and angry words, as they do who are engaged in conflict, but all his teaching shall be gentle, humble, and mild.

When we come to Jesus with our weakness and failures, he doesn’t yell at us. He isn’t angry with us. He paid for our failures and sins on the cross. He is loving and accepting. He waits to help us.

The only kinds of words he uses are those that tell us he loves us, accepts us, is with us and will help us. He understands that we are bruised reeds.

We may feel beaten, broken, hopeless or worthless, like a bruised reed, not a mighty oak tree. But Jesus came not to help the strong and the mighty, but to help the fragile and the weak.

He didn’t come to help those ablaze with their own greatness, but to help those who feel like smoking candle wicks; like they have barely any flame at all.

…a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; (3)

Jesus won’t break us. He will strengthen us. Jesus won’t snuff us out. He’ll fan into flame the fire of his Spirit and his life in us. Again, he is “gentle, humble and mild.” He handles a bruised reed and smoking wick with gentleness and mildness.

When Isaiah says he will faithfully bring forth justice he means that Jesus will faithfully bring the kingdom of God and the rule of God in the earth and in our lives. Day after day he is faithful to work in us. He is faithful to make us more and more like himself.

Though You May Be A Bruised Reed, Jesus Is Not Shocked By Your Weakness

He will not grow faint or be discouragedtill he has established justice in the earth;and the coastlands wait for his law. Isaiah 42:4

Isn’t it encouraging to know that Jesus “will not grow faint or be discouraged” with the progress his kingdom makes in the earth? And he won’t grow faint or be discouraged with the progress he makes in our lives. And he will be faithful to establish his rule and reign in our lives.If Jesus does not grow faint or discouraged, then neither should we.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Jesus will strengthen us with his supernatural power to run this race!

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, Colossians 1:11

Did you see that? Jesus strengthens us “with ALL power,” and not according to our might but “according to HIS GLORIOUS MIGHT,” so that we can endure all we face. And his power is so great that we can endure with “patience and joy.”

The Israelites in Babylon must have felt like bruised reeds, weak and powerless. They must have felt like smoldering wicks, almost at the end of their faith. But God promised them a Messiah to come, who would not break them or snuff out their faith, but strengthen them and fill them with His Spirit and power and establish his kingdom on earth and in their lives.

And the good news is the Messiah has come! He came as a Servant, and longs to serve you and me. He came not to condemn and break us, but to lift us up, strengthen us and work in our lives.

Talk about good news for all of us who are beaten down, fainthearted, failures, discouraged or dismayed at our lives or our progress in Jesus. Good news! What a Savior we have!


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I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.

1 thought on “Are You A Bruised Reed? Weak, Weary, Faint Hearted? Good News!”

  1. Thank you for writing these very encouraging words. I’m always encouraged by both you and Stephans writings. I remember either you or Stephen wrote on what to look for in a church, I’ve not belonged to only two for a short time. Of course I’m praying about it also, but if you could point me to that article on churches it would be helpful. I’m not big on trusting people, organized religions, mega stuff, if that makes any sense, I want pure word of GOD Jesus. ?????? Thank you again.

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