Saturday, December 7
Written by Peter Wall
First Congregational Church of Fresno
“I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him.” —Isaiah 8:17
As a child, having been taught that God is everywhere, and that God loves everyone, it would have scared me to think that God might hide. As an adolescent straining to break free from the burdens of tradition, I would have reveled in a hiding God as
license to challenge the people who claimed to speak for God. As a younger adult with a demand that be God subordinated to logic, the hiddenness of God would have been evidence to me that God was either malicious (and therefore unworthy of devotion), or incoherent (and therefore nonexistent).
Now, at whatever age I am, I think of the opening lines of Dante’s Inferno:
Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.
And I recognize the words of the prophet Isaiah for the poetry that they are.
The light changes. What seemed certain a moment ago is hazy now. But here we still are, passing through the gloam, unable to see, and remaining on the journey, even when the pathway is lost. How? By hope, which is not mere optimism, or sheer
determination to put one foot in front of the other. Hope is more rigorous than that:
“Hope is the refusal to accept the reading of reality which is the majority opinion … hope is subversive, for it limits the grandiose pretension of the present, daring to
announce that the present to which we have all made commitments is now called into question.” (Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination (2nd ed.), p. 65.)
Hope like that can change the world.