Waiting is not something I’m very good at. I admit I’m impatient and it’s hard for me to watch the slow pace of change over the years. Yet that all changed this year, everything changed didn’t it? Almost overnight we went from being these incredible social beings to isolated, stuck at home, and separated – not just by walls, but by beliefs too. How we have reacted and continue to react is lightning fast in some ways, but nonetheless now we slowly wait for things to go back to normal and hope that it will be soon.
I am feeling like the “House of Jacob” a lot these days. When the writings of the first portion of Isaiah were written things were not going well for the southern kingdom of Judah. And the prophet reflects it in this verse, for it seems that they are feeling that God has hidden his face from them.
Enemies surround them, their worship has become stale and lacks concern for the poor. They have forgotten the Lord and it looks like they will be conquered by a foreign power. Yes, they think the Lord has turned away from them.
I get that and I think you all do as well. I’m exhausted, if I’m honest. This time is like none other in my now 65 years of my life. The pandemic, the lack of leadership at the top reminds me of the time of Isaiah, when it seemed that God had turned away. We are waiting and wondering. We wait for a vaccine, we wait for us to all gather at church, we wait to hug our family after separation. We lament in these words from the Psalms.
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
Yeah, I’ve been praying that one a lot and invite you to do the same. It is a time of lament and if we don’t take time to do it, we cannot do what Isaiah was able to do.
Isaiah still waited on the Lord. Yes, he felt the same as everyone else, even more so since he was the vehicle of this revelation. Yet at the end of the verse, look what he says, “I will hope in him.” He doesn’t give up hope. It isn’t a vain hope, but hope grounded in the fact that God is faithful. God isn’t happy with any who forget the community for the sake of personal gain. God wanted the people of Judah to be faithful and to care for all. God wants the same of us in this time and in this place.
The feelings of loss and lament are powerful ones. Feeling that God has turned away from us is not a pleasant one to experience, but an honest one right now. My congregation, Trinity Lutheran, held, a service of lament on August 26. We know it’s time to lament…to recognize it. God is big enough to hear our cries, even ones we feel aren’t being heard. And remember all is not lost. God, even when we don’t feel it, is present. God will sustain us. Later on in the book of Isaiah another author from a different time recognizes that hope in God is still alive and God will sustain them and us.
“but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.”
I am waiting for that time and I will continue to wait with a hope grounded in my lament, grounded in loss yes, but also in a trust that nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Let us pray...
Lord we are tired, tired of the stress of living in this time and yes we are tired of waiting for some words of hope. Too many people have died and we grieve each loss, too many people have lost their jobs to Covid. Too many are hurting. Please give us a word of hope, please strengthen us in this journey that seems to have no end. Help us be your people and love all. Amen