Isaiah 65:17-25

Today’s text makes frequent appearances during our pre-Christmas
mellowness. It’s a welcome companion in the candle-glow of a quiet
sanctuary on a winter’s eve. It fits well there.

But read it in a hospital when, eight feet away, your child’s life is slipping away. Read it in a courtroom when the business you spent twenty years building is ruled to be someone else’s. Read it when you have prayed and prayed and prayed for this war to end, but the relentless enemy is still shelling your town, your neighborhood, your soul. Read it when you see injustice everywhere and God nowhere. Read it when your heart is broken.

Passages like this, full of alluring images and splendid promises, are double-edged. On one hand, they rouse our hope and help us press on, trusting that God knows and understands and is creating new heavens and a new earth (v. 17). These passages can also taunt us. We can read them and ask, “Where is this God? How long does it take for this Creator of new worlds to honor centuries-old promises? Or am I being duped by literary mirages? Is Anyone really out there?”

We usually stuff such questions into a “Don’t Touch” bag and
lock the bag in a closet. But all reflective people ask them! We
would be healthier spiritually if we voiced our questions and risked
membership in the fellowship of the honest. My surprising experi-
ence is that the hopeful side of these passages becomes brighter only
when I face the improbability of any of it ever happening. That’s
when I grow most as a person of faith, and of hope, and of a love
that is so illogical it dirties its hands working for God’s impossible,
promised tomorrows.


Reread today’s scripture and decide if it sounds more like a promise or a puzzle to you. Then consider how you should react to it.


Lord of all, keep my heart open to be cheered by your promises, and keep my mind honest to grow clear-eyed faith in your promises and in you. Amen.

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