The Promise of Strength in the In-Between
When’s the last time you thought to yourself, It isn’t supposed to be this way? Maybe you’ve voiced it in frustration at yet another news headline, or muttered it quietly after hearing about the loss of a friend or loved one. Maybe, like many of us, you’ve said it in a fist-shaking moment of honest, raw prayer to God.
If there’s one sentiment that pervades our culture these days, it’s a feeling that things just aren’t right. They aren’t where they’re supposed to be. It’s that unsettling feeling that maybe we aren’t where we’re supposed to be.
The truth is, these days are wearying. They feel uncertain, unpredictable and so entirely out of our control.
The Israelite people knew something about this.
During the time Isaiah is writing, the Israelites are experiencing an exile. Not just a metaphorical one like many of us may be experiencing these days. A literal one. And it was cause for weariness. Isaiah brings to them, surprisingly, a message of judgment.
In their weariness they lost their way. Lost sight of the God who made them, chose them, and promised them a hope and a future. But here, in chapter 40, we find a message not just of judgment, as Isaiah is so known for, but promise.
How are you feeling “in-between” these days? How are you feeling weary?
Read through the verses below from Isaiah 40. These are words to a desperate people. As you read, bring forth whatever feeling of desperation you may be experiencing. As you do that, what word or phrase stands out to you?
What does God actually promise in Isaiah chapter 40?
What keeps you from relying on God's promises?
Isaiah 40:1-11 & 21-31
1Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.
3 A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
6 A voice says, “Cry out.”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
“All people are like grass,
and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
7 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the Lord blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God endures forever.”
9 You who bring good news to Zion,
go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,
lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
10 See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,
and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
21 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?
22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
23 He brings princes to naught
and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
24 No sooner are they planted,
no sooner are they sown,
no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.
25 “To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.
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”?
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.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men 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.