“For a brief moment I abandoned you but with great tenderness I will take you back. In an outburst of wrath for a moment I hid my face from you; But with enduring love I take pity on you, says the LORD, your redeemer.”
Today is one of those days when I can readily identify with Isaiah’s description of God’s attitude towards us. “In an outburst of wrath for the moment, I hid my face from you; But with enduring love I take pity on you.”
As I write this, I have just about survived the pre-Thanksgiving craziness that strikes campus every year: emails from students offering dubious excuses for turning things in late or asking for understanding because they are taking off for break regardless of what the university calendar says. Today in class, several students wandered in and out as if they were six rather than 20 and one young woman casually went to the front of the room to plug her beeping cell phone in for a charge. ARRRRAGH!!!!
Now as I meditate on Isaiah’s magnificent text, a sense of calm takes hold. I remind myself both how much I love my students (warts and all) and how unimportant such annoyances of daily life are. It’s humbling to realize what small things can sometimes drive us almost over the edge, especially when we are all under pressure. More than ever during such periods, we can appreciate the combination of love and pity with which God regards us; it can become our model for handling those over whom we have power.
Maybe I should make a sign for my desk that says, “So I have sworn not to be angry with you or to rebuke you.”
I’m also going to give myself an Advent gift. I’m going to sit in a dimly lighted room listening to “Gentle Night,” the wonderful St. Louis Jesuits’ Advent and Christmas album that puts some of Isaiah’s best texts to music.
This exercise is guaranteed to bring peace even if the dog just ate your favorite ornament or Jennifer forgot to tell you she has to bring three dozen cupcakes to school tomorrow. These too will pass. God’s love is unshakeable and everlasting. “Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, my love will never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken.”