A Bruised Reed
A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench.
What is weaker than the bruised reed or the smoldering wick? A reed that grows in the marshland—let a wild duck land on it, and it snaps; let but the foot of man brush against it, and it is bruised and broken; every wind that flits across the river moves it to and fro. You can conceive of nothing more frail or brittle or whose existence is more in jeopardy than a bruised reed. Then look at the smoldering wick—what is it? It has a spark within it, it is true, but it is almost smothered; an infant’s breath might blow it out; nothing has a more precarious existence than its flame.
Weak things are here described; yet Jesus says of them, “The smoldering wick I will not quench; the bruised reed I will not break.” Some of God’s children are made strong to do mighty works for Him; God has His Samsons here and there who can pull up Gaza’s gates and carry them to the top of the hill. He has a few mighties who are lionlike men, but the majority of His people are a timid, trembling race. They are like starlings, frightened at every passerby, a little fearful flock. If temptation comes, they are taken like birds in a snare; if trial threatens, they are ready to faint. Their frail craft is tossed up and down by every wave; they drift along like a seabird on the crest of the billows—weak things, without strength, without wisdom, without foresight. Yet, weak as they are, and because they are so weak, they have this promise made especially to them.
Herein is grace and graciousness! Herein is love and loving-kindness! How it opens to us the compassion of Jesus—so gentle, tender, considerate! We need never shrink back from His touch. We need never fear a harsh word from Him; though He might well chide us for our weakness, He rebukes not. Bruised reeds shall have no blows from Him, and the smoldering wick no damping frowns.
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