Wait for it...
Epiphany '21 (COVID-19) • Sermon • Submitted
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21 Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in; 23 who brings princes to naught, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing. 24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows upon them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble. 25 To whom then will you compare me, or who is my equal? says the Holy One. 26 Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these? He who brings out their host and numbers them, calling them all by name; because he is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing. 27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”? 28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. 30 Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; 31 but 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.
Don’t you know?
Don’t you know?
Haven’t you heard? What, do you live under a rock?
The prophet is looking at God’s people, noticing how they are acting and reacting to culture around them. He sees some patterns. Rather, he sees missing patterns.
But just in case, I think maybe he’s also thinking of those who may not know. Who truly may not have heard.
What is it that is missing? What do they seem to have not heard? What is it that might be new information to many who are young or new on the scene?
I’m glad you asked that question. Here they are in confusion and a flurry of unproductive activity. Surely it’s a deep and complex problem in their midst that requires complex responses.
But what if it was incredibly simple? What if they are just forgetting to look up?
26 Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these? He who brings out their host and numbers them, calling them all by name; because he is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing.
Anything and Everything Else First
Anything and Everything Else First
Now apparently not everyone had completely forgotten that God exists.
27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”?
But it’s almost the same as forgetting he exists when you forget his character. When it’s been so long since you spoke to him that you can’t remember what God is like...
It’s unwise and unkind to begin to criticize God when you haven’t shown up for your appointment with God. God didn’t miss any of those appointments. Could you give someone the benefit of the doubt when you haven’t even tried to make contact?
So then for some strange reason people turn to anything and anyone other than the Scriptures and God himself.
25 To whom then will you compare me, or who is my equal? says the Holy One.
Dealing with issues of faith and doubt can be a real struggle. I don’t want to make light of this. If you are struggling with your faith during this time I feel for you. But I think we all need to take a step back to realize our struggles may be internal. It may have to do with how we are processing our season of trial. It may not be that our actual beliefs are failing us. So, if you’re a baseball fan, let’s say you’re up to the plate and I’m gonna throw one high and inside today.
I’m gonna say something. If it doesn’t apply to you, just let it blow by. If it does, please consider it. Far too many people give up on the faith with wimpy excuses when they haven’t made any serious effort.
Famous Christians have used Twitter to announce their exit from the church. I feel like saying: this isn’t an airport, you don’t need to announce your departure.
So you used your platform in the church to build a huge online following. Now you think you don’t need the church anymore but you definitely want to take your followers with you. Is that selfish? Is it conceited? I for one don’t consider it bold and honest. Better to disappear from public view for a while as you examine things. Maybe delete that twitter that was based on your Christian platform. Consider how you are affecting others. You are literally cutting off the limb you’re standing on, like on a cartoon. Then you’re asking other vulnerable people who look up to you to join you standing on a limb that may be falling any second. Friends, don’t fall for it.
I used to really enjoy the Band called Skillet when I was younger. They are a Christian band and still around. The leader of the band was expressing his frustration when some other famous Christian artists were saying that it isn’t safe for Christians to ask hard questions about good and evil so they are leaving.
I’m paraphrasing from the interview I saw but He said: What? There are probably 600 years worth of books asking all those incredibly hard questions. Read a book every now and then. Have you really been a Christian leader for this long and you never asked tough questions about faith? It feels either very weak or perhaps made up.
I would add: have you never read the Bible? Even the Bible itself asks all these questions in several places. People can be so shallow. Don’t be like those people. Dig. Learn. Get through and beyond the doubts to renewed faith. Many many have gone before you.
Again, I don’t want to be insensitive to those genuinely struggling. But I am saying, don’t trust everything you read on twitter...
But whatever you do don’t blame God during seasons of trial. God is here and active in every day of your life. But if you’re filling your mind with anything and everything but God and God’s Word. No wonder you are struggling.
This is part of what the Lord is saying through Isaiah. But were they listening? Are we listening?
It’s part of the human condition to get tired. We enjoy new experiences. But the best stuff of life comes from digging in deep and finding the meaning in lasting relationships; in consistent rhythms of life. Serving others. Doing good. We get tired. It can happen. The Apostle Paul wrote about it in his letter to the Galatians.
9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
If we do not give up. People get tired. But it’s not your faith that is getting tired. No matter what system you try you will still get tired. You will still need to find meaning in life. But those who have God in their life have a secret weapon. They can find seasons of renewal. If they are patient.
31 but 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.
There’s a phrase that got really popular a few years ago it’s still around. Wait for it… And yeah, sometimes that’s the best thing a Christian can do. Instead of getting anxious. Instead of whipping out your credit card to go into debt you can’t afford. Instead of making huge life-altering decisions that you will regret. Maybe just realize that help is on the way.
Waiting on the Lord means getting quiet before him. Serving God. Loving God. Remembering the good things God has done for you and for others. Reading the Word. Talking to believing friends who will pray along with you and encourage you. Start a gratitude journal. Write thank-you notes to others.
Don’t try anything and everything but God. Turn to God. God is working all things together for good for those who love him and live according to his purpose. Trust that. Wait for it… Behold, I am making all things new. Even your weary heart and faltering mind. Don’t pull away from God when the days get long. Lean in and find that something more that only our faithful God can give. Let’s pray.