First Reading: Isaiah 45:1, 4-6

The Strange Ways of God

1 Thus says YHWH to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held, to subdue nations before him, and strip kings of their armor; to open the doors before him, and the gates shall not be shut:

4 For Jacob my servant's sake,
and Israel my chosen,
I have called you by your name.
I have surnamed you,
though you have not known me.
5 I am YHWH, and there is none else.
Besides me, there is no God.
I will strengthen you,
though you have not known me;
6 that they may know from the rising of the sun,
and from the west,
that there is none besides me.
I am YHWH, and there is no one else.

World English Bible

Many times God enters the lives of people in the most unlikely ways. Some of the faithful expect God to "empower" them, make them the instrument of his justice and salvation. Many times, a few assume the role. But, God doesn't work that way. He likes to surprise his people.

In these brief verses, Second Isaiah spoke to the Jewish exiles in Babylon. How could YHWH save them, when they lived so far from home? The prophet's answer: a power greater than Babylon itself, the great Cyrus and his Persian army. More important than this message was a simple reminder. The God of the Jews was greater than even Cyrus and his gods. YHWH was in control. He would call the great Persian to do his bidding, to guide him in his role. Abraham's God would receive glory through a pagan!

Where do we look to see God in our lives? Many times we look in the wrong places. We search for him where we think he should be, doing things we expect him to do. But, we should heed the words of Second Isaiah. God works for our good in the most unlikely ways and from the most unexpected directions. To truly see God working does require faith, for sometimes it tests our preconceived expectations.

How has God surprised you? How has he changed your expectations?