The amazing thing to me is that this less than noteworthy nation on the world’s stage, even during its forty year golden age, in what is hardly a garden spot on the planet, recounted God’s favor for them even in times of captivity and national calamity and unfulfilled promises. The ransomed of the Lord may have returned to Zion with singing but the everlasting joy was only one verse and a chorus. Things are not going so well. The hard work of restoring national identity in a conquered land and rebuilding a city and temple in ruins all in the context of a less than warm welcome by those who had been left behind by the Babylonians is hardly a list of the Lord’s gracious deeds and praiseworthy acts. But then Isaiah doesn’t think in terms of rewards but the riches of a relationship with the Savior who is present with them in all their distress. Not a messenger. Not an angel. The presence of God saved them and lifted them up and carried them home. That is why the most gracious act of God is remaining present with children who, truth to be told, have a habit of dealing falsely with God, no matter what 3rd Isaiah says. God’s love and pity redeems them because these people, of all the people on the planet, are God’s own people. In the same way God continues to be present with us, in a restored relationship through the Christ, despite our less than honest ways. In light of that we too can recount the gracious deeds of God in times of personal captivity and calamity and the not yet nature of future promises unfulfilled.