December 12, 2022: Of weariness and willpower

Reading: Isaiah 7:10-16

Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying, Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test. Then Isaiah said: “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore the LORD himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted.



As I write, I am currently living with COVID. I started feeling sick a week ago, took an at-home COVID (negative) just to be safe, and powered through my week. I thought I just had a mild cold, and I could work through it, until I woke up a couple of days later congested, coughing, feverish, and feeling like I was carrying 20-pound weights on each of my extremities. Still, I waited another day to drag myself to urgent care. Two days later, the COVID test came back positive. I had ignored all the signs of a more complicated illness—and assumed that the at-home test was definitive—in favor of my own willpower. I couldn’t possibly be THAT sick.

These days have reminded me that you cannot will yourself to health, whether it be of mind, body, or spirit. It must be so wearying for God when we try to do so; when we assume ourselves to be so much more powerful than we are. And so God flips the script on us and shows us what real power looks like. After all, what is less powerful than a newborn? And yet, the child called Immanuel—God with us—holds the power of love and mercy and goodness in his chubby little hands. That’s what we remember in this Advent season, my friends: that God in Christ Jesus and through the Holy Spirit changes everything. And there’s nothing you or I can do about it. Thanks be to God!

Lisa Raylene Barnes



God of our weariness, in these Advent days we wait for the birth of something more powerful, more merciful, more loving than we can ever imagine. Stir up our hearts, O Lord, and come.