Receiving God’s Strength

Last Tuesday I was talking to a friend named Dan about how busy the next couple weeks will be. It is all really exciting things, but it was starting to feel a little overwhelming. I get to teach some classes at Moody next week, I’m doing a Scripture recitation at church, I have a lot of Hebrew homework to catch up on, there is lots of reading I need to stay on top of, and finally I was working on a sermon for my Hermeneutics class. This is on top of a full-time job and responsibilities as a husband.

Dan asked what my upcoming sermon was about. “It’s on Isaiah 40:27-31,” I said. “It’s about God’s sovereignty and receiving his strength in the midst of trials.” Dan replied, “It sounds like you need to use this sermon preparation as a devotional exercise. Apply what you are learning through this class assignment.”

I am thankful for the men God has placed in my life to give me the right perspective. God spoke through Dan’s simple exhortation that afternoon. I approached the sermon preparation completely differently when I was asking God to convict me before I was to try and preach Scripture to others.

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What I learned in Isaiah 40 is that indeed, there will be times where we will feel hopeless and powerless. We will feel like victims. We will feel inadequate. It is easy in those moments to cry out to God, “Don’t you even care? Can you even see what I’m going through?”

Isaiah points us back to the magnificent power and sovereignty of God.

40:28 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.

Our understanding of who God is (=theology) gives us a firm foundation to stand upon when trials come. When the waters of life are up to our neck, the unchanging character of God is our relief. The mind-blowing thing is that God does not exist with all these great qualities in isolation. No, he has freely chosen to enter into covenant with us and extends his very resources to us who are weak.

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.

Aligning ourselves to God in hopeful expectation allows us to draw on God’s very own strength. Even the most qualified individuals will fail. But another reality is possible. Once God’s power is received, the most amazing things happen. Such men and women will be able to endure and flourish in all spheres of life. These people will have sufficient strength to face whatever is necessary to endure: if flight, then wings; if running, then stamina; if walking, then endurance.

This week I am reminded of the necessity to root myself in the character of God as revealed in Scripture. This is a good reminder of why I am studying at Trinity. I have been called to study his Word to the best of my ability, so that I may know God better, and be able to serve him more faithfully. But as I study to teach, or learn Hebrew vocabulary, or make lattes at Intelligentsia, may I never forget that it is the Lord’s strength that must sustain me.

Let’s all make sure our foundation is secure in the character of God — one with limitless power and resources, yet who extends his very own strength to the weak. 

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