Grace to you and peace!
One of my favourite passages from the prophet Isaiah speaks some amazing truths about God that are important for us to cling too. But before Isaiah gets to those “God truths” we are confronted with some “human truth.” Isaiah names our human tendency to complain and to fall into despair believing that God is ignoring us and no longer cares about our life challenges and crises. Isaiah asks God’s people, “Why do you complain?”
27 Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”? (Isaiah 40)
The last 11 months of our lives have created opportunity for moments (or days) of “complaining”. It feels like this 2020-21 pandemic has dragged on for too long and has taken too much away. Maybe along the way you have asked, “Has God forgotten that we are in a pandemic?” “Is God disregarding our need to get back to a normal routine?”
Perhaps we can find some comfort in knowing that complaining and questioning God is not a new and recent human trait. It seems to be part of the human DNA through all of history. Isaiah names the complaining but moves quickly to the truths about God that we are invited to remember and hold onto.
28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
I think our human “complaining” grows out of another human tendency and reality; the reality of tiredness, weariness and human frailty. Stressful and difficult times can wear us down. Lots is happening in the world and in our lives, even beyond a pandemic. Sickness and disease attacks our bodies and impacts our mental health; the earth is groaning under the weight of destructive human actions; civil unrest, political wrangling, name calling and blaming goes on and on; poverty and other injustices continue; and so much more. It all wears us down. And yet, “Do you not know? Have you not heard?” We worship a God who does not grow tired or weary, with the world, with the church, or even with us and our times of complaining!
And God’s capacity to understand it all, move in and through it all, work miracles and bring new life in spite of it all is amazing and beyond our comprehension! And the truth that God chooses to strengthen and renew us, while continuing to work in partnership with us, even though we are prone to complaining and growing weary, is an incredible gift of grace! It’s a wonderful truth we need to embrace. We don’t understand the world, and the ways of God within the world, but God always understands! God is forever invested in our world and in our lives! God is ready and waiting to strengthen and empower us for the ongoing journey! God has not forgotten us!
30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young people stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40)
When we hope or trust in God, when we wait upon and look expectantly to God, believing that God’s promises will be fulfilled, our strength is renewed and our hope revived. We may be tired and weary now, longing to get back to “normal” but God wants more that “back to normal” for us. God is ready to empower us to walk, to run, even to soar and fly forward into the future God is preparing for us! A future that will be bring more than any “normal” ever could.
Lord, help us to hope, trust and wait upon you! Help us to walk, run and even soar into the future you have for us!