Bruised reeds & smouldering wicks
“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory. In his name the nations will put their hope.” NIV
Reeds apparently grew abundantly along the banks of the Jordan River and were used for many things. One story has it that shepherds would hollow out the reeds and make flutes out of them. However, if this was not done carefully, the reed would bruise (be damaged) and would no longer be useful. The shepherds would then break the reed (in frustration perhaps) and throw it away. In view of this, something that was no longer useful or was broken was considered a “bruised reed” and was thrown away.
Interestingly, the Merriam-Webster dictionary also describes a reed as “a person or thing too weak to rely on, one easily swayed or overcome.”
The wicks, of course, speak of the oil lamps that were used for indoor lighting. The wicks had to be regularly trimmed and the oil constantly replenished. If the oil ran out, the wick would smolder and give off a lot of smoke. Therefore, when the wick started to smolder, it was quickly snuffed out. The smoldering wicks symbolize weariness, hopelessness, failure, missed opportunities and disappointment.
The Prophet Isaiah used these two interesting snippets of life from ancient Israel to show us something about the heart of Jesus. He has a heart for the “bruised reeds” and “smoldering wicks” of this world.
Jesus knows what it is like to be bruised, for He, too, was “bruised for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5). The world might be ready to give up on the bruised and burnt out, or consider them of little worth, but Jesus will never give up on them. Indeed, He is fiercely protective of them. They will always be precious in His sight and He will never stop working to restore, renew and rebuild them so that they can fulfill their destiny. They may be bruised or burnt out now but Jesus is not done yet. He will take that which is broken and about to be snuffed out and make it beautiful again.
Perhaps you may be feeling bruised and battered right now, and the flame of hope and confidence within you is beginning to wane. Maybe you have suffered some setback or disappointment and you feel God can’t use you anymore, that your best days are over; He knows what you are going through. And He’s at work in your life right now mending that which is broken reigniting hope, and setting you up for a comeback. Have faith. Hold on. Hang in there. God’s not done yet.
Let new hope fill your heart this morning. Jesus’ love never fails! He still works miracles! He still snatches victory out of the jaws of defeat! He still turns our mourning into rejoicing! He still mends bruised reeds and renews the flame of smoldering wicks!