Advent Devotional – Day 15

Dec. 13                            Isaiah 13:1-13                                   Valery Welch

Sometimes I struggle to understand the world around me.  Things like:  conflict between nations and the saber rattling that only adds more strife…or widespread disregard for human rights and human life…or a planet in such physical trouble that it emits smoke so thick it can be seen from a satellite—completely obliterating the light from the sun and the moon and the stars…or an unexplained virus that shows no mercy for any population.  Then there are the heartbreaking images and sounds of grieving relatives…and the daunting task of feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, and connecting with vulnerable older neighbors who were already desperately alone before the pandemic.  

When I was a kid, the answer to understanding these challenges would have been simple.  I would have read Isaiah 13: 1-13 and known with absolute certainty that pain and suffering was simply God’s way of punishing the non-believers and the oppressors.  But I have not been a kid for a long while, now, and the answer is not so simple.  Earlier in Isaiah 2: 3-4 we find the image of ‘beating swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks.’   Isaiah 13: 1-13 reminds me about how complex human beings are.  Isaiah’s vision restores my faith in human evolution and our capacity for owning our anger and all of its ugliness and yet—reconcile ourselves with actions and a vision of a God who does, indeed, set the record straight—but with just a little bit more mercy and reconciliation than we see in 1-13.  After all, several generations after Isaiah, God sent us a fragile baby to save the world.

Oh God of infinite mercy and kindness, I am grateful that I do not always need to understand everything that is going on.  It is enough for me to know that you have blessed each one of us with talents for being part of a compassionate solution.  Thank you for this annual peaceful time of anticipation when we can share joy and faith in your holy design.  In Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.