“Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is!” (Isa 43:19)
“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” (1 Cor 13:11-12)
Holy discontent! That’s what you feel when you know that God is up to something, but you just can’t quite put your finger on it. The Apostle Paul talks about, ‘looking in a mirror that gives only a dim, blurred reflection of reality as in a riddle or enigma.’ I know in my case, God will give me a clue by exposing me to an article, a book, a thought, or a scripture, but my frustration will build as I desire to see the whole.
The Isaiah text is part of a bigger paragraph where God talks about doing something tremendous that goes beyond just another exodus. Israel is stuck in a religion of past miracles, past events, and faith that has got old. Claus Westermann, in a commentary on Isaiah by Walter Brueggemann, says of the new things:
“Israel requires to be shaken out of a faith that has nothing to learn about God’s activity, and therefore nothing to learn about what is possible with him, the greater danger which threatens any faith that is hidebound in dogmatism, faith that has ceased to be able to expect anything really new from God.”
Holy discontent is just God’s way of shaking us up, keeping us fresh and always expecting something new. Beware, the ‘new’ might challenge the old, requiring us to change.