Breaking Points | Reflections from Advent 3 (part 2/5)

Part 2/5 of a set of reflections written for Ware Episcopal Church on the daily lectionary during Advent 3. 

Isaiah 9:8-17

The Lord sent a word against Jacob;
    it fell upon Israel;
    the people all knew it—
    Ephraim and the one who rules in Samaria.
But with a proud and arrogant heart they said,
10     “Bricks have fallen,
        but let’s rebuild with stones.
    Sycamores were cut down,
        but let’s replace them with cedars.”
11 So the Lord raised up their foes against them,[d]
    and stirred up their enemies—
12     Aram from the east and the Philistines from the west—
    and they devoured Israel with an open mouth.
Even then God’s anger didn’t turn away;
    God’s hand was still extended.

13 But the people didn’t turn to the one who struck them.
    They didn’t seek the Lord of heavenly forces.
14 So the Lord cut off head and tail,
    palm branch and reed from Israel in one day.
15     (Elders and celebrities are the head;
    prophets who teach lies are the tail.)
16 But this people’s leaders were misleading,
    and those being led were confused.
17 So the Lord showed their youth no pity,
    and showed their orphans and widows no mercy;
    for everyone was godless and evil;
        every mouth spoke nonsense.
Even then God’s anger didn’t turn away;
    God’s hand was still extended.


Everyone has a breaking point. You know what that’s like, right? I certainly do. It’s that moment when you feel like you can’t take anything more—if someone says one more thing, or something else happens, you might snap.

When I read a passage like this, it reminds me that God, too, has a breaking point. After all, this is one of the few moments in theBible when even God doesn’t have mercy on orphans and widows, or punish the rulers and those in power rather than the common person. Instead, Isaiah prophesies the exile and the destruction of the tribes of Israel, and most of the tribes of Judah.

So what do we do with this God, who is unnervingly human? I can’t speak for God, but my own experience of breaking points is this. First of all, they happen. For whatever reason, relationships don’t work out, things flare up and get out of control. Sometimes I feel the need to say and do things that let someone else know how I really feel in that moment of frustration. And sometimes that frustration takes a while to go away, or I need to take sometime away from that person or situation. I picture God reaching this breaking point and staying there for a while. It’s hard to be in relationship with a people who won’t listen to you.

It’s particularly poignant during this season of waiting that we read about God reaching a breaking point. As much as we sit and wait onGod, and complain about why God isn’t listening to us, perhaps it’s helpful to imagine that God can and has done the same thing about us. God is waiting on us. God got so tired of waiting on us that Jesus came to redeem us. And God is still waiting on us today.

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