Lenten Devotion: Isaiah 58:1-12

A young child waits for a nutritional assessment in South Sudan. LWR has partnered with IMA World Health and the John Dau Foundation to provide treatment of children and mothers at risk of malnutrition and starvation. [Photo: Allison Shelley]

This post is the first in a series of devotionals written by Lutherans in the U.S. and LWR staff around the world reflecting on their faith, which calls them to proclaim hope for those in need. Check out the other devotionals in the series.

As we walk through the season of Lent together, announce to the world that the Hope of Christ makes a new season possible – a SEASON OF HOPEJoin us by energizing your congregation for global good through activities and service opportunities that connect us to our brothers and sisters in need around the world. Click here to get started. 


Isaiah 58:1-12 

 “…if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.” – Isaiah 58:10 (NRSV)

I remember vividly three nearly simultaneous and rather breathtaking insights that I had the moment my first child was born. The first is that I had not known just how much love I had inside me. I mean, I loved my wife, my siblings, my parents and more. But the immediate and almost piercing desire I had to protect and nourish this child and give him all good things was nearly overwhelming. I didn’t know such love existed until this child came into the world.

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The second is that I had never realized that my parents had loved me this much. I knew, of course, that they loved me, but I could not understand just how much until I had my own child. The third is that there was absolutely no way I could repay or even sufficiently thank my parents for their love and support … except to try to love my child (and now children) as much as they loved me.

These realizations come to mind as I read this passage from the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah, you see, is trying to correct a common misunderstanding among religious folk: that the way to please God is to fast and pray. Certainly, there are many places in scripture that give instructions about fasting, praying and other forms of worship. But there are far, far more that say God most wants us simply to care for others.

Perhaps this misunderstanding stems from a larger misconception about God’s very nature. We tend to think of God like a king, someone who deserves and demands our attention, obedience and praise. Some scripture does describe God as a king, but most often those descriptions are accompanied by disclaimers that God is not a king like human kings — all too prone to exploit their positions for personal gain — but rather is much more like a parent.

Which brings me back to those realizations I had when my son was born. God loves us more than we can imagine. God wants nothing more than the best for us. And there is no way we can sufficiently repay, please or even thank God except to share that love with others.

This is why true worship of God is caring for those around us and especially those in need. It’s the only thing God wants: for all God’s children to flourish. And this, too, is what I love about my involvement in LWR: the opportunity to extend the love of God to God’s children around the globe. Each time I do so, I feel like I am offering the only worship and praise God really wants.

In this season of hope, how might you challenge yourself to extend God’s love to others in your family, in your community and around the world?


Dear God: Remind us of your love and inspire us to share that love with those in need, that we might offer fit worship of you and grow in faith and life. Amen.


The Rev. Dr. David Lose is a member of the Lutheran World Relief board of directors and serves as the Senior Pastor of Mt. Olivet Church in Minneapolis, Minn.

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