Across the Pastor’s Desk: Listening for God in time of noise
Across the Pastor’s Desk by Josh Enderson
In Isaiah 43 we read, “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
It is difficult to stop and listen for God these days. There is a lot of noise that constantly swirls around us. There is a lot of pain that we witness in the suffering of others, and a lot of harsh rhetoric from the mouths of some. I don’t think we should shy away from witnessing the pain or calling out the rhetoric that damages our public life. And yet, all of these things can leave us hopeless. It can leave us with a sense that the whole of life is pain and anger.
We can forget that God is still speaking to us, working to bring about life. We forget that Jesus came into this world, not when it was perfect, but just as it was: messy and complicated.
Into that time of chaos, Jesus spoke God’s word of hope in God’s future. He spoke of the new thing that God was doing.
But the call to perceive can be tough if not discouraging. The message of hope gets drowned out by the calls of violence and hatred. Do you perceive it? Somedays, I admit that the answer is, “No. I don’t perceive it.” It can be hard to listen for God when the noise of the world is so loud.
Just because we don’t perceive at all times doesn’t mean that God gives up on the message. If we take the time to turn down the noise and listen, to witness God’s work around us, we see that message of hope bubbling up. We see that God walks through us in the midst of this pandemic, working through doctors and nurses and researchers to heal. We see that God’s message of hope and love can’t be drowned out by anger and hatred. Goodness is still there if we look for it, if we perceive it.
Perceiving this new thing that God is up to can and is difficult to do. But, once we open our eyes to this, we see the rivers in the desert, the way in the wilderness. We see the world as one where life and love are present, not just destruction and fear as some claim. We see a path for us to take, one that leads us to care for others, to bring about this new thing God is doing.
We see God’s message of hope.
Josh Enderson is an ELCA pastor at Hayward and Trondhjem Lutheran churches.