I confess now to flipping through all the possible lessons assigned for this week before settling on this one. For now, at least, I need to hear such words of resounding hope. Words which speak of a different world than the one I have found myself inhabiting in these last days.
A world where refugees whose whole lives have been defined by war are not only given asylum but do not find themselves terrorized by anti-immigrant rhetoric which too often floods our airwaves these days…
A world where we value life all the way through, ensuring with our resources and our best efforts that the needs of our most frail are not left unanswered because our care facilities are so understaffed…
And yes, a world where 12-year-old’s and their families never find their hearts and minds numbed by unexpected news which will forever change the course of their lives.
I have been in all these places in these last weeks, but this week my heart was especially with one beloved family whose 7th grader was diagnosed with leukemia.
He is, perhaps, more fortunate than many. His family’s love for one another runs strong and deep and sure. Their health insurance is more than adequate to meet the demands which will be placed upon it now. They live within reach of wonderful medical resources. His diagnosis is of the most common, most treatable kind. And yet, even with all of this, my heart breaks to be living in a world where mothers weep, and dads stand stoic so as to emit a sense of much needed calm, and twelve year old boys try to hold back tears of confusion and fear.
I want the world the prophet promises now:
- Where the sounds of weeping and distress are simply no more.
- Where little ones (and children) never die and where life is still short when we live to be 100.
- Where hard work is rewarded with adequate shelter and enough to eat for everyone.
- Where sworn enemies —- the wolf and the lamb — eat together.
Oh, what a world that would be, will be where not one is hurt or destroyed on God’s holy mountain.
We need that resounding promise because, it seems to me, too often you and I stand face to face with a world where weeping and distress are echoing around every corner and where far too many are hurt on a ‘mountain’ which is so far less than ‘holy.’
- For now I do find some measure of comfort in communities which wrap their arms around our newest residents, doing our darnedest to drown out hate with our best efforts to do and speak kindness;
- I am heartened by caregivers who go above and beyond, often at the expense of their own needs and the needs of those they love;
- And yes, I am lifted up knowing that promised prayers are not empty promises, that those who walk alongside are pitching in to help in all the ways they can to help dear ones in crisis, and that smart and kind people are stepping up into their best selves to help a young man and his family negotiate a world they never thought would be theirs to navigate.
All of these do point to that ‘holy mountain’ where God’s protection will be complete and I am grateful for each and every one.
But even now? I am still holding out for the whole deal.
I am setting my heart’s deep hope on what the prophet promised to a people so long ago and I am trusting that those resounding promises are meant for us as well.
And in this meantime? In what surely seems like this far too long meantime? I am going to do all I can to let those promises shape how I live today.
- By standing with the most vulnerable wherever I might meet them.
- By doing what I can to stand between them and whatever means to threaten harm.
- And by resting in the best efforts and the prayers of thousands who have heard this promise, too. And who, even now are doing what they can to live like they are part of God’s Holy Plan to make this so already.
- How do you hear the words of promise in Isaiah now? Which piece, in particular speaks to what you need to hear today. Where, in your experience, does this promise need to be heard the most?
- How do you negotiate this ‘in-between’ time when the promise has certainly not yet been fulfilled?
- What signs of hope that God’s promise is sure do you see along the way?