Never call anyone “stupid.” It’s an insult. I grew up being told, “Never call anyone stupid."
But what does it mean to call someone “stupid”?
To be “stupid” means to be “in a stupor.” One particular obvious example: a drunken stupor: to be so drunk that nothing gets through to you. You’re awake, you’re moving around, but you’re dangerously clueless to what is happening around you and to you. In the case of drunkenness, “stupid” isn’t an insult, it’s a diagnosis.
Let me introduce you to some truly stupid people: The leaders, priests, and prophets of Israel at the time of Isaiah:
Ah, the proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim…
These also reel with wine and stagger with strong drink;
the priest and the prophet reel with strong drink,
they are swallowed by wine, they stagger with strong drink,
they reel in vision, they stumble in giving judgment.
For all tables are full of filthy vomit, with no space left. (Isa. 28:1a, 7-8)
This is at least “physical” drunkenness, but it’s also “spiritual” drunkenness: they reel in vision and stumble in giving judgment. God is trying to get through to them, but they won’t have it. And what is the Lord’s response?
Behold, the Lord has one who is mighty and strong; like a storm of hail, a destroying tempest…
when the overwhelming scourge passes through, you will be beaten down by it….
and it will be sheer terror to understand the message. (Isa. 28:2b, 18b, 19b)
Destruction, beatings, and terror - of God’s own devising! But God provides hope, too:
And those who go astray in spirit will come to understanding, and those who murmur will accept instruction.” (Isa. 29:24)
Here’s the most frightening part: If they are in a stupor, if they are so drunk that they are clueless, how will they hear?
If I am in a spiritual stupor, how will I hear? Am I ready to heed the severe discipline of destruction, being beating down and terror in my life, in order to learn the lessons that God is trying to teach me?
Yes, there are many reasons why God brings difficult things into my life that may have nothing at all to do with my sinfulness. Job was a righteous man and suffered great loss. But do I too quickly pat myself on the back about my supposed righteousness when I need to repent of my failure to listen to him? When difficult times come, will I completely miss the message?
“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom. 7:24-25a). God help me to listen and receive the lessons you are trying to teach me!