God’s Promise of Strength
Are you tired? I am. The pandemic, the economic fallout, and wider acknowledgement of racial injustice in our nation is enough to exhaust us all. If you are fortunate to be able to work from home, the endless Zoom meetings can be soul crushing as well! The new routines we find ourselves in and the social distancing have taken a toll. The worries about how safe it will be to return our kids to school weighs heavy upon our minds. We are all tired.
That’s how the Israelite people felt when they were in exile in Babylon. They had tried to keep a sense of normalcy that some remembered in Jerusalem. They tried to worship, but it didn’t feel the same without their temple. They tried to read the scriptures and find a word of hope for them in a foreign land. They tried to pray, secretly wondering if God was actually listening. They went through the motions of the Passover feast, afraid that God had given up on them. They were in exile, oppressed. They could not see God at work in their lives, and in the waiting and their despair, they began to get tired.
The prophet Isaiah enters into this malaise with a word of hope as he reminds them: “Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning?” (Isaiah 40:21) God is still here. God has made all things. God has made the covenant people for an inspiring work, still to be revealed! Yes, you are exhausted, but please know that you have access to a strength that is not your own – it is eternal, that is of God and because it sustained the Israelite people over 2,500 years ago, that very same strength can sustain us today. Isaiah reminded them of “those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31) The hope of this passage for all of us, is that when we follow, wait on, and trust in the Lord, then our strength is more than enough, it is eternal, because it isn’t ours – it’s the Lord’s! It is important to remember though, that this promise of strength is not a promise of results. It does not mean that if we just have enough faith, that God will bring out our desires and dreams. No, it is a promise of strength and endurance in the face of obstacles and struggle. After Isaiah’s prophetic work was done, many in Jerusalem became disillusioned by his words of hope. This was because the new temple that they eventually erected was not as grand as the first one, it’s footprint sitting inside the previous one. Also, later they only experienced a brief historical period of national autonomy through a group of warriors known as the Maccabees (a rebel group who ruled, yet were not the hoped for descendants of David). Disappointment led to a general feeling of being discouraged. That was the reality for the Israelite people when Jesus was born.
Yet, when we see the life of Jesus, we begin to grasp the dawning of Isaiah’s words and the relentless nature of God’s love for us all! We can know this strength too, in our times of trial and difficulty. We too, can mount up with wings like eagles and fly during this time of pandemic, shining the light of Christ into our dark and discouraged world!
I'm a follower of Christ, husband, father, friend, pastor, story teller, asker of questions, inspired by biblical narratives, social justice advocate, sports enthusiast, drinker of over priced coffee and general seeker of God's redemptive possibilities. Yeah, that about covers it. (If you discover something else, let me know!)