20 December, Tuesday — Will or Won’t?

Tuesday of the 4th week of Advent

Is 7:10-14
Lk 1:26-38

…are you not satisfied with trying the patience of men without trying the patience of my God, too?

Weariness. We have been there at some point in our lives. When we end up in some mindlessly endless loop of futility, but for some reason we have to keep going on. This can be made worse when nobody co-operates with us, therefore making the process even more drawn out. But still we keep on, because we…have to.

If it sucks to have to keep working on the same issue at work but never come to a resolution, or if it sucks to keep nagging at your child just to keep them alive (“Drink the water!”), imagine how wearisome it must be for God, to have to keep on keeping on for all of us, even as we keep ignoring Him.

God had sent the prophet Isaiah to King Ahaz, who was by no account a good king. Nonetheless, God wanted to give him a sign, a reassurance, through his prophet. But King Ahaz actually refused Isaiah by saying he will not put the Lord to the test. The audacity! Then Isaiah plainly told him he absolutely will be getting a sign anyway despite being so wearisome.

And so we are similar to Ahaz. Not in an evil ruler kind of way, but in the I shall not listen kind of way. We do not pray nor discern. We do not listen nor heed the word of God. We want to forge our own paths, our own futures, on our own terms. Parents of toddlers will be familiar with this sort of thing, when your child insists on doing everything by themselves, and then usually messing it up. This, apparently, helps them learn. But then, they also need to be guided and given some broad rules to follow. Otherwise, how will they learn? How will they differentiate the right way and the wrong way?  

Yes, we are probably inclined to go our own way; but to blindly do so without any heed, is perilous. I can let my child learn how to cross the street herself, but not when she disregards safety rules. In fact, I will drill into her mind the safety rules and make sure she understands them before letting her cross the street by herself. But somehow, when it comes to our grown-up selves, we think we can simply forge ahead on our own while disregarding rules, guidelines and warnings.  

We are stubborn, but God does not give up. He will give us the sign anyway. He will keep offering it, whether we want to heed it or not. Because God is faithful, always. Even while we are not faithful, He will still be. Even as we stray off the path, He can guide us back if we let him. Even if we insist on ignoring Him, He will be by our side. We do not prioritise God, but God prioritises each and every single one of us. And He never grows weary.

Over and over, God is there reminding us, nudging and prompting us. Again and again, we shut ourselves to Him. Typical. While revising for her end of year exams, my daughter received a lot of nagging from me because who doesn’t use a ruler for Math??  Again and again, I reminded her to use her ruler for the bar graphs. Again and again, she insisted she could see the correct values without one. What do you know, her parallax error eventually cost her in the exam. She should have listened. We should have listened to God. We should listen to God.

It is normal to fret and fuss and want things to be done on our terms, and to want things to go the way we desire. It is certainly not easy to simply accept God’s will for us. It takes a lot of faith to be able to say ‘yes’ to giving ourselves completely over to God. That is why we say no sometimes, and run in the other direction, like Jonah. But no matter — God will make another way for us. Jonah, too, eventually ended up in Nineveh, where he was supposed to be. God will help us out of our troubles, but only if we would finally listen to Him. God is patient. And His faithfulness, despite our constant failures and disappointments, shows us this.  

Ultimately, God is Love. This is the 4th week of Advent, when we light the last candle of Love, which God brings to everyone. The sign that Isaiah said Ahaz was going to receive was one of the expectant young woman who will bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.  Immanuel means ‘God is with us’. This is the promise God has made us, and He never tires of being with us. It is also important to note that the young woman in the sign is none other than our Blessed Mother. Hers was an example of great faith in God that she said ‘yes’ to what God had planned.  

So back to us again. Are we responding to God’s love for us in the right way? Do we also love as He does, as we are called to do? Do we put our faith in God and listen to Him? Or will we turn away from His signs and promptings like wearisome and tiresome toddlers?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Felicia Zou)

Prayer: Father, grant us the grace and humility to be able to accept Your word. Grant us the strength and perseverance to love as You do. 

Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, we thank You for loving us with an everlasting love. We thank You for being ever patient with us. We thank You for never giving up on us.

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