“Life as a Grasshopper”


            Even though I know we are middle of winter, I want us to skip ahead and think about a popular and interesting little creature of summer … the grasshopper.  Grasshoppers are interesting in that even though one would think by their name that they just hop, they don’t really.  Grasshoppers have wings and they use those wings to help them in their leaping.  Did you know that grasshoppers can leap more than 40 yards in a single bound?  I don’t know who gets to measure this or who counts the different types of grasshoppers there are, but I read this week that there are more than 18,000 different varieties of grasshoppers which come in all different shapes, sizes, and color.

           Now I know some of you are not fans of grasshoppers and honestly, neither am I.  It drives me insane to put all this effort into flower beds and landscaping only to see them eating the leaves right off these plants.  Gardeners and farmers feel the same way as grasshoppers eat anything in sight and can cause a great deal of damage.

           But yet Isaiah in our Old Testament lesson invites us to look at the grasshopper in a different way.  Listen again to what Isaiah says at the beginning of our lesson: “Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He {God}sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like … grasshoppers” (40:21-22).  People are like grasshoppers.    

           Isaiah’s claim that people, that you and I are like grasshoppers can seem a bit like a demeaning description of us.  It’s especially demeaning when you think back and remember how in the beginning, when God created man, He created us in His own image.  Scriptures say we are God’s prize creation, that we are his workmanship (Eph. 2:8).  Psalm 8 says that God made man to be a little lower than angels and that we are crowned with glory and honor.  God has made us rulers of the works of His hands and everything is under our feet.  With that being the case, I’d like to think of ourselves as being far greater than these little pesky green critters.

           But maybe this is exactly why Isaiah is calling the Israelites, calling you and me grasshoppers.  The Israelites ego was getting to be too big.  They were thinking that because they were the chosen ones of God, that God was going to always bless them.  In doing so, they began to forget about what God wanted them to do.  Instead of helping the poor, they neglected the poor among them.  They neglected and abused the widowed and the orphaned.

           God tried through the prophets, through people like Isaiah to warn the Israelites that if they kept this up, if they kept promoting themselves and demoting God … something awful was going to happen. 

           And when things did start getting tough for them, where did the Israelites turn for help?  They turned to Egypt, which is just ironic in and of itself considering Egypt once had the Israelites as their slaves.  The Israelites turned to other nations, nations which didn’t worship the one true God.  Isaiah even flat out tells King Hezekiah in the chapter before our reading, “Hear the word of the LORD Almighty: The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your fathers have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left. And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon” (39:5-7).  Hezekiah’s response?  “The word of the LORD you have spoken is good.”  What?  What planet is Hezekiah living on?  Didn’t he just hear that destruction and devastation are coming?  No, he didn’t hear that because he thought, “there will be peace and security in my lifetime.”

           In Aesop’s fables, grasshoppers are often portrayed as the lazy, playful bug that has nothing for the winter and must beg the industrious ant for food and shelter.  This carries over in the 1998 Disney movie “A Bug’s Life.”  In the movie, the grasshoppers torment the ants like a street gang as the grasshoppers expect the ants to provide for them.  You know, maybe Isaiah isn’t off when he calls the Israelites, when he calls you and me a grasshopper. 

           To teach the Israelites where their standing is within the world, God allows the Babylonians to come in and eradicate, to remove the Israelites from their land and force them to live in a new land.  The once tall standing, God is going to always bless me because I’m one of His people Israelites are now no more than a grasshopper in the cosmic order of things.  They who once had slaves are now slaves.  They who once proudly lived in the glorious riches of the Promised Land now live in the pit of despair and are surrounded with the hazards of false gods.

           We know that feeling too though don’t we?  Some days we may feel like things are going great, we’re living it up on the top of the world, nothing could ruin this day for me and then bam!  Something comes along which knocks us off of our pedestal.  We all have moments when we feel small like a grasshopper.

           Maybe it’s when other students at school mock you.  Maybe it’s that moment your child says they hate you and don’t want to ever talk to you again.  Or perhaps it’s when we find ourselves suffering from loneliness, from being isolated or quarantined.  Perhaps it’s just the advancing of age which makes people feel like grasshoppers.  We may feel like grasshoppers when we trudge into work or when we try to raise a difficult child.  Or perhaps it’s when we receive that bad report regarding our investments or pension fund.

           Whether any of these examples apply to you or not … sooner or later, sooner or later we all feel like grasshoppers.  At some point in time, we all get that feeling of being small, of feeling insignificant, of not being in control, of being put in our place.  And even though being compared to a grasshopper may feel demeaning … it’s actually a good thing.

           Isaiah says, “{God} brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, then he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff” (40:23-24).

           In the midst of comparing ourselves to the Lord of heaven and earth and all He has made, if God can easily reduce rulers and nations by blowing on them … then we should feel small, we should like a little grasshopper in the midst of a giant field.  God is, after all, the creator of everything.  In fact, when we compare anything God has made to its Creator, even the greatest and grandest of things are tiny.  Mighty mountains are like a pile of dust bunnies gathered in the corner of a room, immense galaxies are like a small night light shining in a sports stadium, and awesome oceans are nothing more than a tiny drop of water in a fifty-gallon barrel. 

           And this is Isaiah’s point.  Isaiah chose grasshoppers to represent humanity for a reason.  Besides being small and having wings, grasshoppers have five eyes.  Part of the adaptability and survival comes from their ability to see everything around them in a great panorama.  If we only focus on and see that one blade of grass in front of us, we quickly become weighed down with trivial things.  We easily become annoyed by the attitudes of other people, we get caught up in our own selfish struggles, and we wonder why the grass doesn’t taste better or we begin to worry that we are going to run out of grass.

           Isaiah wants the Israelites in captivity and he wants for us to look at our life as a grasshopper in a different way.  It’s almost as if Isaiah is saying, “Hey grasshopper!  Look!  Have you not seen, have you not heard?  Look around at the big world.  Behind all of it is your Creator.  Behind all of this is the One who has the expansive power of life, a power that make a small grasshopper soar like an eagle.” 

           By faith in God as the Creator of heaven and earth, we can look at the vast expanse of the world with a sense of awe and wonder which lifts us up to new heights.  Seeing things with the eyes of amazement, seeing ourselves in the context of being part of God’s majestic creation, we can confidently believe and take comfort in the fact that you or I, we are not in control.  He is!  Isaiah reminds us that those who rely on the Lord find the help they need.  God doesn’t always take away our problems, but with Him at our side, He gives us the strength to deal with them.  God helps vulnerable grasshopper people like you and me so that we can run the race of faith and not tire out.  With God at our side, life as a grasshopper in His care is good.  So live as a grasshopper, bringing glory and honor to God in all you do for Him and for all you do for those around you.  Amen.

           The peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord, now and forever.  Amen.


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