Don’t get me wrong: snowfall is a lovely thing. Twice, recently, I’ve been out walking in amid the flakes. But I like living where winter is not a four-month sentence to a world of white. Each melt feels like a rehearsal for the Great Reprieve of spring.
Today, the low-hanging sun strikes the patches of snow with light that seems to make each crystal sparkle. As I lean in to take a close shot of a non-descript snowbank, I wonder what my neighbors think I’m doing. (They are, I assume, all home.)
They have no way to know I’m trying to illustrate verses in Isaiah 54.
7 “For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with deep compassion I will bring you back.
8 In a surge of anger
I hid my face from you for a moment,
but with everlasting kindness
I will have compassion on you,”
says the Lord your Redeemer.
9 “To me this is like the days of Noah,
when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth.
So now I have sworn not to be angry with you,
never to rebuke you again.”
For the Israelites, God’s anger over their sin was a brutal, but brief storm. In its wake came a promise of everlasting kindness. Compassion, “the emotional love that makes the heart beat faster,” (Motyer) is the engine behind kindness, the commitment of the will. These, then, drive the action: the redemption of His people through the payment made by his Suffering Servant.
This is so important. Worldwide catastrophes will continue: wars, pandemics, economic disasters – but God promises that his people never have to fear that those troubles are driven by God’s anger at them.
Why? Because, in the words of a hymn, “he who lives to be my king once died to be my Savior.” Paul, in the comforting words of Romans 8, makes clear the effect of Jesus’s sacrifice: “…(nothing) in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (vs.39)
I’m so tired of this challenging time we’re in. I feel frozen in place -- isolated, limited in scope, feeling small and powerless, just waiting for a warm breeze of change. But these verses lift my spirit, even as I wait. I don't have to worry that God has turned away from me.
His everlasting kindness. His undying commitment to be with me. To bless. To make me his own.
It’s enough to melt the coldest of hearts.
God of compassion, you are so extravagant in your love. Through your Son, you have found a way to keep us close to you, despite our own fickle and faint love. We soak in the warmth of that truth, full of wonder and praise.
Reader: What warms your heart today?