Written & Illustrated by Amy MacCready
Before 2020, I never thought much of Isaiah. Aside from a few of the more familiar verses (“unto us a child is born”) it was always this long, kind of obscure book in between the ones I really wanted to read. It lacked the comfort of the Psalms, the narrative excitement of Jonah, and the hope of the Gospels.
Then came 2020, and I found myself reading Isaiah like I was drinking from a stream of fresh mountain water.
Why? Because Isaiah talks about justice, judgment, and hope. I have desperately needed to hear that God is making all things right. I have needed to know his heart for the oppressed. I have needed to remember that even if he brings judgment, on the other side, he restores.
Particularly in times when I am anxious about the state of the world, when my temptation is to scroll Instagram or read the news to try to gain hope, I have been praying through Isaiah instead. Art has been a huge part of this process for me. Writing out verses has always helped me internalize and remember them better, and this is even more true when I am creating a piece of lettering art.
Isaiah 1:17 is where it started, right at the beginning of June when issues of racial injustice seemed overwhelming. It was tempting to cry out to God, “don’t You care about this? Will You make this right?” This verse reminded me that any care I might have for the vulnerable comes from God. I’m not more compassionate than God, and I don’t have to move away from his law in order to be concerned about justice. That affirmation of God’s care for justice was and is profoundly comforting to me.
Isaiah 26:3 came in my daily reading at a particularly relevant moment, when I was very anxious about something in my personal life. My process for creating is generally unplanned, but as I look back at this one, I find it interesting that all the lines seem to be pointing toward the center, as though to reinforce the idea of staying our minds on God.
Isaiah 41:10 was one that stuck in my head, probably because it is set to music in the 2nd verse of How Firm a Foundation. It has been on repeat in my head this week, as I feel the burden of national concerns and personal disappointments. It challenges me to find my hope in God’s strength, and not in my ability to take control.