See, I have refined you, but not like silver; I have tested you in the furnace of adversity.
Isaiah 48:10
I feel like I'm doing an about-face today. Yesterday's meditation emphasized the communal nature of redemption, that God does not intend for us to be "lone rangers" who relate neither to a community nor to the environment in which we live. But today's meditation seems to be a reminder that sometimes this is exactly what's called for. 

It's certainly true that God did not call us to conform to a crowd or to a culture that goes against the gospel values of love and humility and peace and justice. If necessary, we must pray for the courage to stand against the majority, and for the wisdom to speak words that make a difference. When we live in times or places in which it's necessary to speak truth to power or isolate ourselves from that which is wrong, it does indeed seem like a "baptism of fire." 

But when God calls us to stand up against wrong, when we are being refined through adversity, even then, we are not alone. In Isaiah 48, God is not speaking to an individual, but to the House of Jacob (that is, all Israel). And Jesus pronounces his blessing not on a persecuted person, but on a persecuted community. So even in the furnace of adversity, God does not intend for us to be alone. It is through Christ's beloved community that the world will be transformed.

Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven.
 Luke 6:22-23
Prayer after thinking about today's devotion:
Grant me the courage to stand against wrong, O God. And help me to see that I am not alone, but that I am part of a people imbued with your wisdom and strength; in Jesus' Name.
After your own thanksgivings & petitions, close with the Lord's Prayer.

Please note that the version of Spirit of the Living God sung by Marble Collegiate's choir moves from the individual in the first stanza to the community in the final stanza. This is the version found in the Lift Up Your Hearts hymnal.
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