November 24, 2020 | Stories
Where is God in our Longing?
Oh, that you would burst from the heavens and come down!
How the mountains would quake in your presence!
2 As fire causes wood to burn
and water to boil,
your coming would make the nations tremble.
Then your enemies would learn the reason for your fame!
3 When you came down long ago,
you did awesome deeds beyond our highest expectations.
And oh, how the mountains quaked!
“Oh, that you would burst from the heavens and come down!”
“Oh” is a yearning word. This tiny two-letter word here in Isaiah is more like a groan. Isaiah lived at a time when God seemed far away. He wistfully remembered God’s “awesome deeds done long ago.” But at the moment those long-ago days were just that—in the past. The present was filled with trouble, strife, and what seemed like the silence of God.
Advent is a season for yearning. Yes, on one level we yearn for Christmas. But we know that December 25 will likely come and go as usual. Advent reminds us that we are yearning for something more. This year we yearn for the pandemic to subside. We yearn to be face-to-face, unmasked once again with our friends and at worship. We yearn for restoration of our broken world. Some of us yearn for the dull ache of grief to be gone. Others yearn for wholeness for a family member who’s gone astray. So much for which to yearn.
We yearn because God created us as yearning beings. In this fallen, broken world, we still sense the echo of a time and a place where there was no disease, no sadness, no loneliness, no grief. God’s good creation was broken by sin; yet still the echo of God’s perfect creation reverberates in our hearts.
God did burst from the heavens and come down. Just not in the way humanity might have expected. God’s bursting forth from the heavens was as a baby, born to a humble woman, in barn. God’s coming down was not in a royal palace, but on the streets where Jesus ate with sinners, healed the sick, cast out demons – all giving just a taste of the grand restoration to come. God’s coming down took Jesus all the way to the cross the tomb. And then he burst forth from that tomb, the first fruit of God’s new creation.
For Christ’s return, for God’s restoration of all creation, still we wait. And watch. And hope. And we yearn, we groan out our “oh’s.” And they are heard by the One who yearns for us, the One who promised long ago: “I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:10-11
Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.