For a long time, I, the Lord,
have held my temper;
now I will cry out and groan
like a woman giving birth.
I will destroy the mountains
and what grows on them;
I will dry up rivers and ponds.
I will lead the blind on roads
they have never known;
I will guide them on paths
they have never traveled.
Their road is dark and rough,
but I will give light
to keep them from stumbling.
This is my solemn promise.
Everyone who worships idols
as though they were gods
will be terribly ashamed.
You people are deaf and blind,
but the Lord commands you
to listen and to see.
No one is as blind or deaf
as his messenger,
his chosen servant,
who sees and hears so much,
but pays no attention.
The Lord always does right,
and so he wanted his Law
to be greatly praised. (Contemporary English Version)
The Christian season of Lent serves to remind us that we must cultivate awareness by opening our eyes and unstopping our ears. Spiritual blindness and deafness are the result of failing to pay attention, ignoring the moral vision of God, and not listening to God’s voice.
It’s not unusual for people to complain about God being silent and ignoring them. But do we ever consider how the Lord feels about us living our lives as functional atheists? There may be expressions of belief, yet God doesn’t factor into the daily life of many. And the Lord is not okay with this.
At least we have assurances throughout Holy Scripture that the Lord is attentive to us, even when silent or seemingly not there. However, when it comes to us, our silence and lack of being present to the Lord is outright spiritual blindness and deafness on our part.
Today’s Old Testament lesson almost seems as if Yahweh is like the person trying to get your attention in a crowded place – jumping up and down, waving his arms, yelling our name – doing whatever it takes for us to see and hear, listen and look up. Yet, alas, we don’t.
Maybe we need to remember what God’s divine eyes and ears have already seen and heard. The Lord heard the awful groanings of the Israelites in Egypt under their harsh slavery. And God took notice of them and saw what was happening. (Exodus 2:24-25)
Perhaps we must recall all the times the Lord heard the cries of the people and sent a deliverer (Judges 2:16-19); and looked from heaven, saw those in bondage, and freed them. (Psalm 102:18-20)
If we put our fingers in our ears, and cover our eyes for too long, our hearts will become hard, and we shall be unable to turn from unhealthy ways of living. We’ll become so obtuse and clueless that we cannot repent and be healed.
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” He said, “Go and tell this people:
“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:8-10, NIV)
This might seem rather hard. And yet, none of us can truly know comfort and consolation apart from facing the hard truth in front of us and the hard heart inside us. Everyone wants happiness without pain. However, we cannot have a rainbow without a storm, and a resurrection without a cross.
We can have a different experience of God. It’s not too late. The message of Lent is that we can prepare ourselves for the Lord’s deliverance – and it is likely to come in the form of great sorrow and great joy of which we could not have anticipated.
The wisdom I proclaim is God’s secret wisdom, which is hidden from human beings, but which he had already chosen for our glory even before the world was made. None of the rulers of this world knew this wisdom. If they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as the scripture says,
“What no one ever saw or heard,
what no one ever thought could happen,
is the very thing God prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:7-9, GNT)
We humans struggle with the hard things of life. Yet, what we don’t always see or hear is how those adversities are shaping and forming us as a people.
For how would we ever know the Lord as our:
- Deliverer unless we were in bondage?
- Comforter unless we were in trouble?
- Helper unless we were weak?
- Healer unless we were broken?
- Provider unless we were poor?
- Protector unless we were in danger?
- Warrior unless we were under attack?
- Rock unless we were being tossed about?
Every day is a fresh opportunity to experience the presence, power, provision, and protection of a God who sees and hears us. Believers are to honor and respect the Lord by listening to God’s voice and obeying God’s words.
So, let us use this season to offer prayers of repentance and faith:
O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways,
and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, forever and ever. Amen.