Connections 02.07.2021: Hidden from the LORD

Isaiah 40:21-31

What are your prayers these days?

On January 1, many of us felt excited about leaving 2020 behind. A new year usually brings feelings of hope, fresh possibilities, and chances to start over. Americans put up our 2021 calendars with the anticipation of new leadership in our country, vaccines that would protect us from COVID-19, and an opportunity to return to a sense of normalcy as we begin the hard work of healing our nation.

A little over a month later, we are still in the midst of a worsening worldwide pandemic. Vaccines are scarce. If it hasn’t touched us already, COVID-19 is getting closer and closer to our inner circles. People are desperately ill, hospitals overflow, and bodies pile up in makeshift morgues. The new administration of the United States was sworn in on the balcony of a White House recently vandalized by extremists. The country remains deeply divided, embittered, and frightened.

My prayers these days often sound like this: “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God” (Isa 40:27b). In other words, “Are you even there, God? Can you see us? Can you hear us? Do you care?”

People have prayed this kind of prayer throughout the centuries. We can read it in the Psalms, in the Old Testament stories, in the New Testament letters, and even in Jesus’ own words: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46; Mk 15:34). We have all felt desperate, alone, and forgotten.

What do we do when we feel this way? Sometimes the best next step is to remember how God has been with us in the past. That’s what God urges in our Isaiah passage: “Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning?” (v. 21). Remember, God says. Read the ancient stories and think about your life and remember.

Times are difficult right now. But this is not the first instance of difficult times. Just ask someone who lived through the Great Depression or World War II or the Civil Rights Movement or the AIDS crisis. When our prayers are devastated cries of loss and confusion, let’s remember this: “The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (vv. 28-31).

Discussion

• What are your prayers these days?
• How has 2021 measured up to your expectations so far?
• When you don’t feel God’s presence with you, what memories/stories/verses can you rely on that assure you God is still here?
• What gives you hope in the midst of these difficult times?
• What does it mean to you that God never grows weary?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, her husband John, and the family’s two dachshund mix pups, Luke and Leia. She likes supporting community theater productions and is often found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. And she writes middle grade and young adult fiction for the pure joy of it.

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