Perhaps most resonant in Handel’s glorious Messiah, however, is conviction and where it leads in ridicule. How many times have we all been told: “If God delights in you, let Him deliver you from your awful fate”?
But, my dear friends, you miss again the majesty of God. For it is not: “He trusted in God that he would deliver him from calamity. Let him deliver him if he delight in him.” No, it is rather: “He trusts in God that he delivers him to calamity. Let him, therefore, Creator and Lord, deliver him if he delight in him.”
That is the deliverance, my dear on-lookers to the crucifixion—those of Jesus’ crucifixion and those of our own. The deliverance to God’s will, not to human-made calamity and woe. It is God’s trust in us that we may endure momentary suffering for the greater and forever glory of God.
And again: “For He is like a refiner’s fire; who shall stand when he appeareth?” This is not an assurance of our unworthiness. It is not a doing away of some souls and the redemption of others. We are all refined, all brought low. And in purification, brought high among the angels of heaven. We are made saints among the saints and citizens of the kingdom of God. The fire of God is redemptive, not destructive. We must rethink the parousia. None are struck down to hell.
To make clear and bold the message: “The glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” Not your glory, but risen in you nonetheless. Not placed in you, but risen up. Hope is rife and implacable; may it persist with tenacity and holy stubbornness.