As fiercely as God’s grief burns within God’s soul, so does God’s passionate and forgiving love for God’s people. Amid God’s tirade against a rebellious Israel, God cries a promise – one day Israel will be restored. Again.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the US. This means the beginning of the family gatherings that will linger through Christmas and even New Year’s Day. None of my extended family lives near me, which means I will spend all of the holidays only with the family members I live with day in and day out. We have our rhythms and we know the dynamics of our relationships. For us, the holidays are wonderful opportunities to slow down, to eat (a lot!!), and to enjoy each other’s company.
But many, if not most of my friends dread the holidays for the very reason that they are obligated to spend time with family members that are difficult. Weddings, funerals, and holidays are odd times when extended family – who would probably never hang out if they were not related – get together to discuss politics, sports allegiances, and vacations afforded (or not) by disparate income levels. In other words, stress!!
Maybe it would be good to remember God’s fiery passion. Despite the differences and betrayals of God’s people, God continued to love with zeal. Maybe we could take a tiny note out of God’s book. Maybe we could take a step back from engaging emotionally with those who trigger our angst. Maybe we could see them through God’s eyes. Maybe we could love them fiercely, even if we don’t like them all that much. God forgave God’s people even before they repented, even before God restored them. Maybe we can forgive even before we have reason to. (And maybe, just maybe, we could refrain from doing or saying anything for which we will need forgiveness. J)
Therefore, the days are surely coming, says the Lord, when it shall no longer be said, “As the Lord lives who brought the people of Israel up out of the land of Egypt,” but “As the Lord lives who brought the people of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the lands where he had driven them.” For I will bring them back to their own land that I gave to their ancestors. I am now sending for many fishermen, says the Lord, and they shall catch them; and afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks. For my eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from my presence, nor is their iniquity concealed from my sight. And I will doubly repay their iniquity and their sin, because they have polluted my land with the carcasses of their detestable idols, and have filled my inheritance with their abominations.
O Lord, my strength and my stronghold,
my refuge in the day of trouble,
to you shall the nations come
from the ends of the earth and say:
Our ancestors have inherited nothing but lies,
worthless things in which there is no profit.
Can mortals make for themselves gods?
Such are no gods!
“Therefore I am surely going to teach them, this time I am going to teach them my power and my might, and they shall know that my name is the Lord.”