28 Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the creator of the ends of the earth.
He doesn’t grow tired or weary.
His understanding is beyond human reach,
29 giving power to the tired
and reviving the exhausted.
30 Youths will become tired and weary,
young men will certainly stumble;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength;
they will fly up on wings like eagles;
they will run and not be tired;
they will walk and not be weary. Isaiah 40:28-31, CEB
The story continues with the people in exile, in slavery. They’re displaced. They’re away from home in a foreign land. God has not done this dispassionately. He’s not happy about the fact that people need to experience consequences in order to wake up to the fact that they’ve lost track of who they were called to be. Instead, he’s compassionate. He’s giving. He’s understanding. He strengthens and empowers the people to be able to cope with and confront the suffering before them. He’s steadfastly loving.
It’s easy to make a case that these people completely brought their situation upon themselves and that they deserve what they’re getting. If we think about it this way then we can emotionally distance ourselves from the story. After all, some of us think about our own stories in the same way. We see our missteps as legitimate reasons why God might forsake us or abandon us.
But he doesn’t. He sticks to the words first voiced in Exodus 34 (I think you can find them on December 8th. If not google Exodus 34). He’s compassionate, merciful, patient, loving, and faithful. Yes, he will allow us to experience consequences. But those consequences will ultimately pale in comparison to all that he gives.
You see how this story is starting to gain some traction?