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“Lord, you establish peace for us;

all that we have accomplished you have done for us” (Is 26: 12).

At the risk of taking a verse out of context, something strikes me every time I read this line in Isaiah.

We celebrate human accomplishment – a new Olympic record, a heart-stopping performance on stage, a child raised in poverty earning her first million. There seems to be no limit to what we can achieve when we put our minds to it.

But when you think about it, despite the grueling months of training and focus, despite the sleepless nights and long days of hard work, and don’t even mention the knockbacks and disappointments that plagued you on the way to success, can we really say that I or that person got there entirely by our own skill or determination? Do we deserve all the glory?

Don’t get me wrong; achievements should be celebrated, and we all need encouragement along the way but where does God fit in the awards ceremony or on the Olympic podium?

At a time when God’s people trusted in their own strength or in the empty promises of human allies rather than their Creator and Redeemer, Isaiah calls them to remember who they are. They are citizens of a different city; they are children of the living God. Yet many chose to exalt themselves rather than look upon the One who is The God of Israel. That the Lord has revealed His grace and majesty throughout the known world made no difference to those who could not see it. Or didn’t want to see it.

Eph 2: 8 – 10 reminds us that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Our creation and salvation are gifts. Undeserved and unmerited. We contributed nothing to the deal. We literally are God’s handiwork. That ability you have to play a musical instrument, the instinct you have developed to make that deal and hold back on the other; the fitness level you have worked so hard to achieve – it’s a gift. We may have honed and practiced it and we may have found the inner strength to keep going when another barrier got in the way, but who gave us the raw materials to begin with?

Who set up that friend to encourage you just when you needed it? Who opened that opportunity when it seemed all doors were closed?


“Lord, you establish peace for us;

all that we have accomplished you have done for us”.

No achievement is absent from God’s provision. We play a part, but we cannot accept the glory that belongs to our creator and saviour. As much as we might enjoy the applause, as the song reminds us: “yet not I, but through Christ in me”.