During my reading this week I hit the oracles in Isaiah with a resounding crash. The news of the world and the words of Isaiah were too similar to ignore, and the awareness of evil at work to defile creation tempted my heart to despair. Consider Isaiah 21:3-4:
Therefore my loins are filled with anguish; pangs have seized me, like the pangs of a woman in labor; I am bowed down so that I cannot hear; I am dismayed so that I cannot see. My heart staggers; horror has appalled me; the twilight I longed for has been turned for me into trembling.Isaiah brings words of destruction and hope to the people of Israel because he longs for God to be glorified in his people. Yet even Isaiah staggers under the weight of judgment, despite the promise of salvation for a remnant.
I feel the approach of despair as a slow, cold tightening in my chest. My heart flutters like a hummingbird, unable to come to rest for fear of being strangled. Despite the promise of a new creation without sin and suffering, this creation remains in bondage to corruption. Yet in light of so much evil, that there is any goodness or kindness in the world seems to me to be the greatest proof of God's existence.
As I pull out the blankets and favorite sweat shirts in anticipation of the months ahead, I'm pondering the art of hope in a fallen world. I understand the willful blindness, the pursuit of happiness in trivial distractions, the turning away from suffering. When the choice is to face this evil armed only with the promise of sufficient grace and future victory, it is no wonder I am tempted to ignore so much suffering. But facing this evil, mirrored in a thousand sins of my own heart, I find that faith pushes back on the coldness with an inextinguishable warmth. There is joy in the moment, whatever the moment holds. Like the moments of laughter I shared with Quinn at Emmett's funeral or the sweetness of restoration after reconciliation with a friend - I have always found the grace to press forward in the face of evil.
Some seasons though are for lingering under the covers and saying prayers of thanksgiving to God for holding back the darkness. If I am convicted of anything right now, it is of how much mercy he shows me in daily restraining the full power of evil at work in the world and in my own heart. I am humbled by my own failure to recognize the full extent of grace, and sometimes I wonder if my courage is borne more of faith in God's power or from ignorance of the evil lying in wait. Probably both, but today I'm thankful for a truth that surpasses my understanding and a grace that continues to show up despite the looming despair.