If you had to compare your life to a fairytale, what fairytale would it be and what character would you play? If you’ve made some investments recently that others have scoffed at, you may feel a bit like Jack, in Jack and the Beanstalk. He traded the family cow for a handful of “magic” beans that his mother threw out the window in disgust when Jack proudly presented them to her. But amazingly those beans sprouted and connected Jack to treasures. No doubt you’re hoping that’s what your investments do too. Or if you’ve been having trouble sleeping lately, you may feel like the princess in the Princess and the Pea. Or if you’ve been stuck in the same job for years you may feel like one of the Seven Dwarfs, particularly Grumpy, before Snow White showed up to make life interesting.
If none of those fairytales describes your life, this one should: Cinderella. Like Cinderella we Christians have our struggles and tormentors but we also have someone watching over us – our heavenly God-Father. Our text this morning begs believers to wake up to their Cinderella story for it assures us that our tormentors will not overwhelm us because our heavenly God-Father has adorned us.
Most fairytales begin with the words “Long, long ago, in a kingdom far, far away…” Our text could also start that way since it was written by the prophet Isaiah who lived over 10,000 km away in Israel some 2,700 years ago. Although Isaiah lived a long time ago he wrote about the future. He wrote about how, a little over a hundred years after his time, the Israelites living in and around Jerusalem would be taken as captives to Babylon (present-day Iraq) and there languish for seventy years. Just as Cinderella was not happy about being stuck at home with all the chores, the Israelites would not be happy about being stuck in Babylon. One captive would write about the experience: “1 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. 2 There on the poplars we hung our harps, 3 for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” 4 How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137:1-4)
Have you come to church this morning with a heavy heart? Did you barely manage to croak out the opening hymn because of the troubles and disappointments in your life? Have you done everything that’s been asked of you at work but just found out that it’s the office clown that got promoted? Did your friend get a better grade than you on a recent test even though you studied hard for it while she was out goofing around the night before? Did your parents discipline you for something you didn’t do? Have you watched your diet, been exercising but just had the doctor tell you that there’s something wrong and they’re not sure what it is? Are you wondering the benefit of regular churchgoing when your unbelieving neighbor seems to have such an easier life? The Old Testament hymn-writer Asaph had these kind of thoughts. He put it like this: “I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. 5 They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills… 12 This is what the wicked are like— always carefree, they increase in wealth. 13 Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. 14 All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning” (Psalm 73:3-5, 12-14).