“’Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10
Ancient peoples often attributed natural disasters, including earthquakes, to the power of angry gods. Anger the gods, the reasoning went, and they will shake the very mountains beneath your feet. In the verse just prior to this, God tells us through Isaiah He never again will bring destruction like the Great Flood out of anger: “So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again.”
Even if the mountains shake and the hills fall, God tells us it’s not out of His anger. God’s covenant of peace, the grace that is ours in Christ, will not be shaken, even if the mountains are wiped away.
It can be hard to hold onto this promise in times of natural disaster. When we see innocents dead or suffering from earthquakes, tsunamis and the like, it can be hard to feel God’s compassion amid the carnage. It can be harder still to remain open to God’s grace amid the countless small disasters we create for ourselves each day.
In spiritual terms, we sometimes think of our shortcomings, our sins – all the ‘wish I hadn’ts’ and ‘wish I hads’ of life – as earth-shaking obstacles between us and God’s love. We think of our sins as too big, too powerful, too much for grace. Even the mountains couldn’t stand in the face of our sins – or, at least it feels that way sometimes.
But, whatever earth-shattering shortcomings we have, whatever mountain-moving sins we’ve committed, we’re reassured of this simple truth: There is nothing we can do that is more powerful than God’s loving grace. Even if we were to move mountains with our shortcomings, God is waiting for us on the other side, beckoning in Christ for us to return, to be absolved and loved. That is God’s promise, and it is more powerful than any disaster – of nature, or of our own spiritual weakness.
Almighty God, help us to remain strong in the peace of your covenant, secure in the knowledge that no disaster, no sin or shortcoming, is more powerful than your desire to embrace us, with boundless love, in the Body of Christ. Amen.